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Jack And The Giants

from Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales - NURSEY STORIES





[The present copy of this tale is taken, with a few necessary
alterations, from the original editions, which differ very considerably
from the modern versions; and it is worthy of preservation in its
antique costume, for the story is undoubtedly of Teutonic origin. "Jack,
commonly called the Giant Killer," says Sir W. Scott, "and Thomas Thumb
landed in England from the very same keels and war-ships which conveyed
Hengist and Horsa, and Ebba the Saxon." One incident in the romance
exactly corresponds to a device played by the giant Skrimner, when he
and Thor travelled to Utgard Castle, related in the Edda of Snorro.
Skrimner placed an immense rock on the leafy couch where Thor supposed
he was sleeping, and when the latter, desiring to rid himself of his
companion, heard the giant snore, he struck the rock with his tremendous
hammer, thinking it was the monster's head. "Hath a leaf fallen upon me
from the tree?" exclaimed the awakened giant. He went to sleep again,
and snoring louder than ever, Thor gave a blow which he thought must
have cracked his skull. "What is the matter?" quoth Skrimner, "hath an
acorn fallen on my head?" A third time the snore was heard, and a third
time the hammer fell with redoubled force, insomuch that Thor weened the
iron had buried itself in Skrimner's temples. "Methinks," quoth the
giant, rubbing his cheek, "some moss hath fallen on my face!" Jack's
invisible coat, his magic sword, and his shoes of swiftness, are also
undoubtedly borrowed from Northern romance.[20]

[Footnote 20: The last is also found in the
second relation of Ssidi Kur, a Calmuck romance.]

An incident very similar to the blows with the rat's tail occurs in the
story of the Brave Little Tailor, in Grimm; who outwits a giant in
several ingenious ways, one of which may be described. On one occasion
the giant wished to try the strength of the tailor, by challenging him
to carry a tree. The latter said, "Very well, you carry the butt-end,
while I will carry all the branches, by far the heaviest part of the
tree." So the giant lifted the tree up on his shoulders, and the tailor
very coolly sat on the branches while the giant carried the tree. At
length he was so tired with his load, he was obliged to drop it, and the
tailor, nimbly jumping off, made belief as if he had been carrying the
branches all the time, and said: "A pretty fellow you are, that can't
carry a tree!"

The edition of Jack the Giant-killer here used was printed at
Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1711. The earliest in the British Museum is dated
1809, nor does the Bodleian, I believe, contain a copy of a more ancient
type.

Jack and the Bean-stalk may be added to the series of English
nursery-tales derived from the Teutonic. The bean-stalk is a descendant
of the wonderful ash in the Edda. The distich put into the mouth of the
giant,

Snouk but, snouk ben,
I find the smell of earthly men;

is, says Scott, scarcely inferior to the keen-scented anthropophaginian
in Jack the Giant-killer.]

In the reign of King Arthur, and in the county of Cornwall, near to the
Land's End of England, there lived a wealthy farmer, who had an only son
named Jack. He was brisk, and of a lively ready wit, so that whatever he
could not perform by force and strength, he accomplished by ingenious
wit and policy. Never was any person heard of that could worst him, and
he very often even baffled the learned by his sharp and ready
inventions.

In those days the Mount of Cornwall was kept by a huge and monstrous
giant of eighteen feet in height, and about three yards in compass, of a
fierce and grim countenance, the terror of all the neighbouring towns
and villages. He inhabited a cave in the middle of the mount, and he was
such a selfish monster that he would not suffer any one to live near
him. He fed on other men's cattle, which often became his prey, for
whensoever he wanted food, he would wade over to the main land, where he
would furnish himself with whatever came in his way. The inhabitants, at
his approach, forsook their habitations, while he seized on their
cattle, making nothing of carrying half-a-dozen oxen on his back at a
time; and as for their sheep and hogs, he would tie them round his waist
like a bunch of bandoleers.[21] This course he had followed for many
years, so that a great part of the county was impoverished by his
depredations.

[Footnote 21: Bandoleers were little wooden
cases covered with leather, each of them
containing the charge of powder for a musket, and
fastened to a broad band of leather, which the
person who was to use them put round his neck.]

This was the state of affairs, when Jack, happening one day to be
present at the town-hall when the authorities were consulting about the
giant, had the curiosity to ask what reward would be given to the person
who destroyed him. The giant's treasure was declared as the recompense,
and Jack at once undertook the task.

In order to accomplish his purpose, he furnished himself with a horn,
shovel, and pickaxe, and went over to the Mount in the beginning of a
dark winter's evening, when he fell to work, and before morning had dug
a pit twenty-two feet deep, and nearly as broad, covering it over with
long sticks and straw. Then strewing a little mould upon it, it appeared
like plain ground. This accomplished, Jack placed himself on the side of
the pit which was furthest from the giant's lodging, and, just at the
break of day, he put the horn to his mouth, and blew with all his might,
Although Jack was a little fellow, and the powers of his voice are not
described as being very great, he managed to make noise enough to arouse
the giant, and excite his indignation. The monster accordingly rushed
from his cave, exclaiming, "You incorrigible villain, are you come here
to disturb my rest? you shall pay dearly for this. Satisfaction I will
have, for I will take you whole and broil you for breakfast." He had no
sooner uttered this cruel threat, than tumbling into the pit, he made
the very foundations of the Mount ring again. "Oh, giant," said Jack,
"where are you now? Oh faith, you are gotten now into Lob's Pound,[22]
where I will surely plague you for your threatening words: what do you
think now of broiling me for your breakfast? will no other diet serve
you but poor Jack?" Thus did little Jack tantalize the big giant, as a
cat does a mouse when she knows it cannot escape, and when he had tired
of that amusement, he gave him a heavy blow with his pickaxe on the very
crown of his head, which "tumbled him down," and killed him on the spot.
When Jack saw he was dead, he filled up the pit with earth, and went to
search the cave, which he found contained much treasure. The
magistrates, in the exuberance of their joy, did not add to Jack's gains
from their own, but after the best and cheapest mode of payment, made a
declaration he should henceforth be termed Jack the Giant-killer, and
presented him with a sword and embroidered belt, on the latter of which
were inscribed these words in letters of gold:

Here's the right valiant Cornish man,
Who slew the giant Cormelian.

[Footnote 22: An old jocular term for a prison,
or any place of confinement.]

The news of Jack's victory, as might be expected, soon spread over all
the West of England, so that another giant, named Thunderbore, hearing
of it, and entertaining a partiality for his race, vowed to be revenged
on the little hero, if ever it was his fortune to light on him. This
giant was the lord of an enchanted castle, situated in the midst of a
lonely wood. Now Jack, about four months after his last exploit, walking
near this castle in his journey towards Wales, being weary, seated
himself near a pleasant fountain in the wood, "o'ercanopied with
luscious woodbine," and presently fell asleep. While he was enjoying his
repose, the giant, coming to the fountain for water, of course
discovered him, and recognised the hated individual by the lines written
on the belt. He immediately took Jack on his shoulders, and carried him
towards his enchanted castle. Now, as they passed through a thicket, the
rustling of the boughs awakened Jack, who was uncomfortably surprised to
find himself in the clutches of the giant. His terror was not diminished
when, on entering the castle, he saw the court-yard strewed with human
bones, the giant maliciously telling him his own would ere long increase
the hateful pile. After this assurance, the cannibal locked poor Jack in
an upper chamber, leaving him there while he went to fetch another giant
living in the same wood to keep him company in the anticipated
destruction of their enemy. While he was gone, dreadful shrieks and
lamentations affrighted Jack, especially a voice which continually
cried,--

Do what you can to get away,
Or you'll become the giant's prey;
He's gone to fetch his brother, who
Will kill, and likewise torture you.

This warning, and the hideous tone in which it was delivered, almost
distracted poor Jack, who going to the window, and opening a casement,
beheld afar off the two giants approaching towards the castle. "Now,"
quoth Jack to himself, "my death or my deliverance is at hand." The
event proved that his anticipations were well founded, for the giants of
those days, however powerful, were at best very stupid fellows, and
readily conquered by stratagem, were it of the humblest kind. There
happened to be strong cords in the room in which Jack was confined, two
of which he took, and made a strong noose at the end of each; and while
the giant was unlocking the iron gate of the castle, he threw the ropes
over each of their heads, and then, before the giants knew what he was
about, he drew the other ends across a beam, and, pulling with all his
might, throttled them till they were black in the face. Then, sliding
down the rope, he came to their heads, and as they could not defend
themselves, easily despatched them with his sword. This business so
adroitly accomplished, Jack released the fair prisoners in the castle,
delivered the keys to them, and, like a true knight-errant, continued
his journey without condescending to improve the condition of his purse.

This plan, however honorable, was not without its disadvantages, and
owing to his slender stock of money, he was obliged to make the best of
his way by travelling as hard as he could. At length, losing his road,
he was belated, and could not get to any place of entertainment until,
coming to a lonesome valley, he found a large house, and by reason of
his present necessity, took courage to knock at the gate. But what was
his astonishment, when there came forth a monstrous giant with two
heads; yet he did not appear so fiery as the others were, for he was a
Welsh giant, and what he did was by private and secret malice under the
false show of friendship. Jack having unfolded his condition to the
giant, was shown into a bedroom, where, in the dead of night, he heard
his host in another apartment uttering these formidable words:

Though here you lodge with me this night,
You shall not see the morning light:
My club shall dash your brains out quite!

"Say'st thou so," quoth Jack; "that is like one of your Welsh tricks,
yet I hope to be cunning enough for you." He immediately got out of bed,
and, feeling about in the dark, found a thick billet of wood, which he
laid in the bed in his stead, and hid himself in a dark corner of the
room. Shortly after he had done so, in came the Welsh giant, who
thoroughly pummelled the billet with his club, thinking, naturally
enough, he had broken every bone in Jack's skin. The next morning,
however, to the inexpressible surprise of the giant, Jack came down
stairs as if nothing had happened, and gave him thanks for his night's
lodging. "How have you rested," quoth the giant; "did you not feel
anything in the night?" Jack provokingly replied, "No, nothing but a rat
which gave me two or three flaps with her tail." This reply was totally
incomprehensible to the giant, who of course saw anything but a joke in
it. However, concealing his amazement as well as he could, he took Jack
in to breakfast, assigning to each a bowl containing four gallons of
hasty pudding. One would have thought that the greater portion of so
extravagant an allowance would have been declined by our hero, but he
was unwilling the giant should imagine his incapability to eat it, and
accordingly placed a large leather bag under his loose coat, in such a
position that he could convey the pudding into it without the deception
being perceived. Breakfast at length being finished, Jack excited the
giant's curiosity by offering to show him an extraordinary sleight of
hand; so taking a knife, he ripped the leather bag, and out of course
descended on the ground all the hasty pudding. The giant had not the
slightest suspicion of the trick, veritably believing the pudding came
from its natural receptacle; and having the same antipathy to being
beaten, exclaimed in true Welsh, "Odds splutters, hur can do that trick
hurself." The sequel may be readily guessed. The monster took the knife,
and thinking to follow Jack's example with impunity, killed himself on
the spot.[23]

[Footnote 23: The foregoing portion of this
wonderful history is that most generally known;
but the incidents now become more complicated,
and after the introduction of Arthur's son upon
the scene, we arrive at particulars which have
long been banished from the nursery library.]

King Arthur's only son requested his father to furnish him with a large
sum of money, in order that he might go and seek his fortune in the
principality of Wales, where lived a beautiful lady possessed with seven
evil spirits. The king tried all he could do to persuade him to alter
his determination, but it was all in vain, so at last he granted his
request, and the prince set out with two horses, one loaded with money,
the other for himself to ride upon. Now, after several days' travel, he
came to a market-town in Wales, where he beheld a vast concourse of
people gathered together. The prince demanded the reason of it, and was
told that they had arrested a corpse for several large sums of money
which the deceased owed when he died. The prince replied that it was a
pity creditors should be so cruel, and said, "Go bury the dead, and let
his creditors come to my lodging, and there their debts shall be
discharged." They accordingly came, but in such great numbers, that
before night he had almost left himself penniless.

Now Jack the Giant-killer happened to be in the town while these
transactions took place, and he was so pleased with the generosity
exhibited by the prince, that he offered to become his servant, an offer
which was immediately accepted. The next morning they set forward on
their journey, when, as they were just leaving the town, an old woman
called after the prince, saying, "He has owed me twopence these seven
years; pray pay me as well as the rest." So reasonable and urgent a
demand could not be resisted, and the prince immediately discharged the
debt, but it took the last penny he had to accomplish it. This event,
though generally ridiculed by heroes, was one by no means overlooked by
the prince, who required all Jack's assuring eloquence to console him.
Jack himself, indeed, had a very poor exchequer, and after their day's
refreshment, they were entirely without money. When night drew on, the
prince was anxious to secure a lodging, but as they had no means to hire
one, Jack said, "Never mind, master, we shall do well enough, for I have
an uncle lives within two miles of this place; he is a huge and
monstrous giant with three heads; he'll fight five hundred men in
armour, and make them flee before him." "Alas!" quoth the prince, "what
shall we do there? He'll certainly chop us up at a mouthful. Nay, we are
scarce enough to fill his hollow tooth!" "It is no matter for that,"
quoth Jack; "I myself will go before, and prepare the way for you;
therefore tarry and wait till I return." Jack then rides off full speed,
and coming to the gate of the castle, he knocked so loud that the
neighbouring hills resounded like thunder. The giant, terribly vexed
with the liberty taken by Jack, roared out, "Who's there?" He was
answered, "None but your poor cousin Jack." Quoth he, "What news with my
poor cousin Jack?" He replied, "Dear uncle, heavy news." "God wot,"
quoth the giant, "prithee what heavy news can come to me? I am a giant
with three heads, and besides thou knowest I can fight five hundred men
in armour, and make them fly like chaff before the wind." "Oh, but,"
quoth Jack, "here's the prince a-coming with a thousand men in armour to
kill you, and destroy all that you have!" "Oh, cousin Jack," said the
giant, "this is heavy news indeed! I will immediately run and hide
myself, and thou shalt lock, bolt, and bar me in, and keep the keys till
the prince is gone." Jack joyfully complied with the giant's request,
and fetching his master, they feasted and made themselves merry whilst
the poor giant laid trembling in a vault under ground.

In the morning, Jack furnished the prince with a fresh supply of gold
and silver, and then sent him three miles forward on his journey,
concluding, according to the story-book, "he was then pretty well out of
the smell of the giant." Jack afterwards returned, and liberated the
giant from the vault, who asked what he should give him for preserving
the castle from destruction. "Why," quoth Jack, "I desire nothing but
the old coat and cap, together with the old rusty sword and slippers
which are at your bed's head." Quoth the giant, "Thou shalt have them,
and pray keep them for my sake, for they are things of excellent use;
the coat will keep you invisible, the cap will furnish you with
knowledge, the sword cuts asunder whatever you strike, and the shoes are
of extraordinary swiftness. These may be serviceable to you: therefore
take them with all my heart."

Jack was delighted with these useful presents, and having overtaken his
master, they quickly arrived at the lady's house, who, finding the
prince to be a suitor, prepared a splendid banquet for him. After the
repast was concluded, she wiped his mouth with a handkerchief, and then
concealed it in her dress, saying, "You must show me that handkerchief
to-morrow morning, or else you will lose your head." The prince went to
bed in great sorrow at this hard condition, but fortunately Jack's cap
of knowledge instructed him how it was to be fulfilled. In the middle of
the night she called upon her familiar[24] to carry her to the evil
spirit. Jack immediately put on his coat of darkness, and his shoes of
swiftness, and was there before her, his coat rendering him invisible.
When she entered the lower regions, she gave the handkerchief to the
spirit, who laid it upon a shelf, whence Jack took it, and brought it to
his master, who showed it to the lady the next day, and so saved his
life. The next evening at supper she saluted the prince, telling him he
must show her the lips tomorrow morning that she kissed last this night,
or lose his head. He replied, "If you kiss none but mine, I will." "That
is neither here nor there," said she, "if you do not, death is your
portion!" At midnight she went below as before, and was angry with the
spirit for letting the handkerchief go: "But now," quoth she, "I will be
too hard for the prince, for I will kiss thee, and he is to show me thy
lips." She did so, and Jack, who was standing by, cut off the spirit's
head, and brought it under his invisible coat to his master, who
produced it triumphantly the next morning before the lady. This feat
destroyed the enchantment, the evil spirits immediately forsook her, and
she appeared still more sweet and lovely, beautiful as she was before.
They were married the next morning, and shortly afterwards went to the
court of King Arthur, where Jack, for his eminent services, was created
one of the knights of the Round Table.

[Footnote 24: An attendant spirit.]

Our hero, having been successful in all his undertakings, and resolving
not to remain idle, but to perform what services he could for the honour
of his country, humbly besought his majesty to fit him out with a horse
and money to enable him to travel in search of new adventures; for, said
he, "there are many giants yet living in the remote part of Wales, to
the unspeakable damage of your majesty's subjects; wherefore may it
please you to encourage me, I do not doubt but in a short time to cut
them off root and branch, and so rid all the realm of those giants and
monsters in human shape." We need scarcely say that Jack's generous
offer was at once accepted. The king furnished him with the necessary
accoutrements, and Jack set out with his magical cap, sword, and shoes,
the better to perform the dangerous enterprises which now lay before
him.

After travelling over several hills and mountains, the country through
which he passed offering many impediments to travellers, on the third
day he arrived at a very large wood, which he had no sooner entered than
his ears were assailed with piercing shrieks. Advancing softly towards
the place where the cries appeared to proceed from, he was horror-struck
at perceiving a huge giant dragging along a fair lady, and a knight her
husband, by the hair of their heads, "with as much ease," says the
original narrative, "as if they had been a pair of gloves." Jack shed
tears of pity on the fate of this hapless couple, but not suffering his
feelings to render him neglectful of action, he put on his invisible
coat, and taking with him his infallible sword, succeeded, after
considerable trouble, and many cuts, to despatch the monster, whose
dying groans were so terrible, that they made the whole wood ring again.
The courteous knight and his fair lady were overpowered with gratitude,
and, after returning Jack their best thanks, they invited him to their
residence, there to recruit his strength after the frightful encounter,
and receive more substantial demonstrations of their obligations to him.
Jack, however, declared that he would not rest until he had found out
the giant's habitation. The knight, on hearing this determination, was
very sorrowful, and replied, "Noble stranger, it is too much to run a
second hazard: this monster lived in a den under yonder mountain, with a
brother more fierce and cruel than himself. Therefore, if you should go
thither, and perish in the attempt, it would be a heart-breaking to me
and my lady: let me persuade you to go with us, and desist from any
further pursuit." The knight's reasoning had the very opposite effect
that was intended, for Jack, hearing of another giant, eagerly embraced
the opportunity of displaying his skill, promising, however, to return
to the knight when he had accomplished his second labour.

He had not ridden more than a mile and a half, when the cave mentioned
by the knight appeared to view, near the entrance of which he beheld the
giant, sitting upon a block of timber, with a knotted iron club by his
side, waiting, as he supposed, for his brother's return with his
barbarous prey. This giant is described as having "goggle eyes like
flames of fire, a countenance grim and ugly, cheeks like a couple of
large flitches of bacon, the bristles of his beard resembling rods of
iron wire, and locks that hung down upon his brawny shoulders like
curled snakes or hissing adders." Jack alighted from his horse, and
putting on the invisible coat, approached near the giant, and said
softly, "Oh! are you there? it will not be long ere I shall take you
fast by the beard." The giant all this while could not see him, on
account of his invisible coat, so that Jack, coming up close to the
monster, struck a blow with his sword at his head, but unfortunately
missing his aim, he cut off the nose instead. The giant, as we may
suppose, "roared like claps of thunder," and began to lay about him in
all directions with his iron club so desperately, that even Jack was
frightened, but exercising his usual ingenuity, he soon despatched him.
After this, Jack cut off the giant's head, and sent it, together with
that of his brother, to King Arthur, by a waggoner he hired for that
purpose, who gave an account of all his wonderful proceedings.

The redoubtable Jack next proceeded to search the giant's cave in search
of his treasure, and passing along through a great many winding
passages, he came at length to a large room paved with freestone, at the
upper end of which was a boiling caldron, and on the right hand a large
table, at which the giants usually dined. After passing this
dining-room, he came to a large and well-secured den filled with human
captives, who were fattened and taken at intervals for food, as we do
poultry. Jack set the poor prisoners at liberty, and, to compensate them
for their sufferings and dreadful anticipations, shared the giant's
treasure equally amongst them, and sent them to their homes overjoyed at
their unexpected deliverance.

It was about sunrise when Jack, after the conclusion of this adventure,
having had a good night's rest, mounted his horse to proceed on his
journey, and, by the help of directions, reached the knight's house
about noon. He was received with the most extraordinary demonstrations
of joy, and his kind host, out of respect to Jack, prepared a feast
which lasted many days, all the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood
being invited to it. The knight related the hero's adventures to his
assembled guests, and presented him with a beautiful ring, on which was
engraved a representation of the giant dragging the distressed knight
and his lady, with this motto:

We were in sad distress you see,
Under the giant's fierce command,
But gain'd our lives and liberty
By valiant Jack's victorious hand.

But earthly happiness is not generally of long duration, and so in some
respects it proved on the present occasion, for in the midst of the
festivities arrived a messenger with the dismal intelligence that one
Thunderdell, a giant with two heads, having heard of the death of his
two kinsmen, came from the north to be revenged on Jack, and was already
within a mile of the knight's house, the country people flying before
him in all directions. The intelligence had no effect on the dauntless
Jack, who immediately said, "Let him come! I have a tool to pick his
teeth;" and with this elegant assertion, he invited the guests to
witness his performance from a high terrace in the garden of the castle.

It is now necessary to inform the reader that the knight's house or
castle was situated in an island encompassed with a moat thirty feet
deep, and twenty feet wide, passable by a drawbridge. Now Jack,
intending to accomplish his purpose by a clever stratagem, employed men
to cut through this drawbridge on both sides nearly to the middle; and
then, dressing himself in his invisible coat, he marched against the
giant with his well-tried sword. As he approached his adversary,
although invisible, the giant, being, as it appears, an epicure in such
matters, was aware of his approach, and exclaimed, in a fearful tone of
voice--

Fi, fee, fo, fum![25]
I smell the blood of an English man!
Be he alive or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make me bread!

[Footnote 25: These lines are quoted by Edgar in
the tragedy of King Lear.]

"Say you so," said Jack; "then you are a monstrous miller indeed." The
giant, deeply incensed, replied, "Art thou that villain who killed my
kinsman? then I will tear thee with my teeth, and grind thy bones to
powder." "But," says Jack, still provoking him, "you must catch me
first, if you please:" so putting aside his invisible coat, so that the
giant might see him, and putting on his wonderful shoes, he enticed him
into a chase by just approaching near enough to give him an apparent
chance of capture. The giant, we are told, "followed like a walking
castle, so that the very foundations of the earth seemed to shake at
every step." Jack led him a good distance, in order that the wondering
guests at the castle might see him to advantage, but at last, to end the
matter, he ran over the drawbridge, the giant pursuing him with his
club; but coming to the place where the bridge was cut, the giant's
great weight burst it asunder, and he was precipitated into the moat,
where he rolled about, says the author, "like a vast whale." While the
monster was in this condition, Jack sadly bantered him about the boast
he had made of grinding his bones to powder, but at length, having
teased him sufficiently, a cart-rope was cast over the two heads of the
giant, and he was drawn ashore by a team of horses, where Jack served
him as he had done his relatives, cut off his heads, and sent them to
King Arthur.

It would seem that the giant-killer rested a short time after this
adventure, but he was soon tired of inactivity, and again went in search
of another giant, the last whose head he was destined to chop off. After
passing a long distance, he came at length to a large mountain, at the
foot of which was a very lonely house. Knocking at the door, it was
opened by "an ancient[26] man, with a head as white as snow," who
received Jack very courteously, and at once consented to his request for
a lodging. Whilst they were at supper, the old man, who appears to have
known more than was suspected, thus addressed the hero: "Son, I am
sensible you are a conqueror of giants, and I therefore inform you that
on the top of this mountain is an enchanted castle, maintained by a
giant named Galligantus, who, by the help of a conjuror, gets many
knights into his castle, where they are transformed into sundry shapes
and forms: but, above all, I especially lament a duke's daughter, whom
they took from her father's garden, bringing her through the air in a
chariot drawn by fiery dragons, and securing her within the castle
walls, transformed her into the shape of a hind. Now, though a great
many knights have endeavoured to break the enchantment, and work her
deliverance, yet no one has been able to accomplish it, on account of
two fiery griffins which are placed at the gate, and which destroyed
them at their approach; but you, my son, being furnished with an
invisible coat, may pass by them undiscovered, and on the gates of the
castle you will find engraven in large characters by what means the
enchantment may be broken." The undaunted Jack at once accepted the
commission, and pledged his faith to the old man to proceed early in the
morning on this new adventure.

[Footnote 26: An old man.]

In the morning, as soon as it was daylight, Jack put on his invisible
coat, and prepared himself for the enterprise. When he had reached the
top of the mountain, he discovered the two fiery griffins, but, being
invisible, he passed them without the slightest danger. When he had
reached the gate of the castle, he noticed a golden trumpet attached to
it, under which were written in large characters the following lines:

Whoever doth this trumpet blow,[27]
Shall soon the giant overthrow,
And break the black enchantment straight,
So all shall be in happy state.

[Footnote 27: Variations of this incident are
found in romances of all nations.]

Jack at once accepted the challenge, and putting the trumpet to his
mouth, gave a blast that made the hills re-echo. The castle trembled to
its foundations, and the giant and conjuror were overstricken with fear,
knowing that the reign of their enchantments was at an end. The former
was speedily slain by Jack, but the conjuror, mounting up into the air,
was carried away in a whirlwind, and never heard of more. The
enchantments were immediately broken, and all the lords and ladies, who
had so long been cruelly transformed, were standing on the native earth
in their natural shapes, the castle having vanished with the conjuror.

The only relic of the giant which was left was the head, which Jack cut
off in the first instance, and which we must suppose rolled away from
the influence of the enchanted castle, or it would have "vanished into
thin air" with the body. It was fortunate that it did so, for it proved
an inestimable trophy at the court of King Arthur, where Jack the
Giant-killer was shortly afterwards united to the duke's daughter whom
he had freed from enchantment, "not only to the joy of the court, but of
all the kingdom." To complete his happiness, he was endowed with a noble
house and estates, and his penchant for giant-killing having subsided,
or, what is more probable, no more monsters appearing to interrupt his
tranquillity, he accomplished the usual conclusion to these romantic
narratives, by passing the remainder of his life in the enjoyment of
every domestic felicity.

[I have alluded to the quotation from this primitive romance made by
Shakespeare in King Lear, but if the story of Rowland, published by Mr.
Jamieson, is to be trusted, it would seem that the great dramatist was
indebted to a ballad of the time. This position would, however, compel
us to adopt the belief that the words of the giant are also taken from
the ballad; a supposition to which I am most unwilling to assent. In
fact, I believe that Edgar quotes from two different compositions, the
first line from a ballad on Rowland, the second from Jack and the
Giants. "And Rowland into the castle came" is a line in the second
ballad of Rosmer Hafmand, or the Merman Rosmer, in the Danish Koempe
Viser, p. 165. The story alluded to above may be briefly given as
follows.

The sons of King Arthur were playing at ball in the merry town of
Carlisle, and their sister, "Burd[28] Ellen" was in the midst of them.
Now it happened that Child Rowland gave the ball such a powerful kick
with his foot that "o'er the kirk he gar'd it flee." Burd Ellen went
round about in search of the ball, but what was the consternation of her
brothers when they found that she did not return, although "they bade
lang and ay langer,"--

[Footnote 28: It is almost unnecessary to observe
that burd was an ancient term for lady.]

They sought her east, they sought her west,
They sought her up and down;
And wae were the hearts in merry Carlisle,
For she was nae gait found.

At last her eldest brother went to the Warlock or Wizard Merlin, and
asked him if he knew where his sister, the fair Burd Ellen, was. "The
fair Burd Ellen," said the Warlock Merlin, "is carried away by the
fairies, and is now in the castle of the King of Elfland; and it were
too bold an undertaking for the stoutest knight in Christendom to bring
her back." The brother, however, insisted upon undertaking the
enterprise, and after receiving proper instructions from Merlin, which
he failed in observing, he set out on his perilous expedition, and was
never more seen.

The other brothers took the same course, and shared a similar fate, till
it came to the turn of Child Rowland, who with great difficulty obtained
the consent of his mother, for Queen Guinever began to be afraid of
losing all her children. Rowland, having received her blessing, girt on
his father's celebrated sword Excaliber, that never struck in vain, and
repaired to Merlin's cave. The wizard gave him all necessary
instructions for his journey and conduct, the most important of which
were that he should kill every person he met with after entering the
land of Faerie, and should neither eat nor drink of what was offered him
in that country, whatever his hunger or thirst might be; for if he
tasted or touched in Elfland, he must remain in the power of the elves,
and never see middle-earth again.

Child Rowland faithfully promised to observe the instructions of Merlin,
and he accordingly went to Elfland, where he found, as the wizard had
foretold, the king's horseherd feeding his horses. "Canst thou tell me,"
said Rowland, "where the castle of the king of Elfland is?" "I cannot,"
replied the horseherd, "but go a little further, and thou wilt come to a
cowherd, and perhaps he will know." When he had made this answer,
Rowland, remembering his instructions, took his good sword, and cut off
the head of the horseherd. He then went a little further, and met with a
cowherd, to whom he repeated the same question, and obtained the same
answer. Child Rowland then cut off the cowherd's head, and having
pursued exactly the same course with a shepherd, goatherd, and a
swineherd, he is referred by the last to a hen-wife, who, in reply to
his question, said, "Go on yet a little farther till you come to a round
green hill, surrounded with terraces from the bottom to the top: go
round it three times widershins,[29] and every time say, "Open door,
open door, and let me come in!' and the third time the door will open,
and you may go in." Child Rowland immediately cut off the hen-wife's
head in return for her intelligence, and following her directions, a
door in the hill opened, and he went in. As soon as he entered, the door
closed behind him, and he traversed a long passage, which was dimly but
pleasantly lighted by crystallized rock, till he came to two wide and
lofty folding-doors, which stood ajar. He opened them, and entered an
immense hall, which seemed nearly as big as the hill itself. It was the
most magnificent apartment in all the land of Faerie, for the pillars
were of gold and silver, and the keystones ornamented with clusters of
diamonds. A gold chain hung from the middle of the roof, supporting an
enormous lamp composed of one hollowed transparent pearl, in the midst
of which was a large magical carbuncle that beautifully illumined the
whole of the hall.

[Footnote 29: The contrary way to the course of
the sun.]

At the upper end of the hall, seated on a splendid sofa, under a rich
canopy, was his sister the Burd Ellen, "kembing her yellow hair wi' a
silver kemb," who immediately perceiving him, was sorrow-struck at the
anticipation of his being destroyed by the king of Elfland,--

And hear ye this, my youngest brither,
Why badena ye not at hame?
Had ye a hunder and thousand lives,
Ye canna brook ane o' them.

And she informs him that he will certainly lose his life if the king
finds him in the hall. A long conversation then takes place, and Rowland
tells her all his adventures, concluding his narrative with the
observation that, after his long journey, he is very hungry.

On this the Burd Ellen shook her head, and looked sorrowfully at him;
but, impelled by her enchantment, she rose up, and procured him a golden
bowl full of bread and milk. It was then that the Child Rowland
remembered the instructions of the Warlock Merlin, and he passionately
exclaimed, "Burd Ellen, I will neither eat nor drink till I set thee
free!" Immediately this speech was uttered, the folding-doors of the
hall burst open with tremendous violence, and in came the king of
Elfland,--

With, Fe, fi, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of a Christian man!
Be he dead, be he living, wi' my brand
I'll clash his harns frae his harn-pan![30]

[Footnote 30: Literally, "I will dash his brains
from his skull with my sword."]

"Strike, then, Bogle, if thou darest," exclaimed the undaunted Child
Rowland, and a furious combat ensued, but Rowland, by the help of his
good sword, conquered the elf-king, sparing his life on condition that
he would restore to him his two brothers and sister. The king joyfully
consented, and having disenchanted them by the anointment of a bright
red liquor, they all four returned in triumph to merry Carlisle.]





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