« ZurückWeiter »
of history are to be recorded; but as each of the narratives in this work is a single thread, the transa&tions of every day are set down in a regular succession, and the time noted in the margin.
By this narrative, it will be seen how far the exist. ence or non-existence of a southern continent is already ascertained, and what land has in the course of these voyages been first discovered : and a careful attention in comparing the latitudes and longitudes assigned to the various places mentioned herein, will prevent any mistake that might arise from the same name having been given to different islands, &c. &c. by the several Commanders in these voyages.
As it is but a very few years since the existence of a race of men above the common stature, upon the coast of Patagonia, was the subject of eager dispute among all ranks of people in this country, I have brought together the whole of the evidence on the question, as I find it in a colle&ion of voyages lately printed in France, under the title of “ Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes.”
" It must be acknowledged, that the contrariety of the reports that have been made, by ocular witnesses, concerning a fa&t easy to be determined, does not deviate less from the common course of things than the gigantic stature of the people in question. It appears, that during an hundred years, almost all navigators, of whatever country, agree in affirming the existence of a race of giants upon the coast of Patagonia ; and that, during another century, the much greater number agree in denying the fad, treating their predecessors as idle fabulists, and imputing their reports either to the terror which the rude fierceness of a savage people inspired, or to the natural propensity of mankind to asfume importance, by pretending to have seen wonderful things. That men have a strange propensity to the marvellous cannot be denied, nor that fear naturally magnifies its object ; but though it be allowed, that the accounts of the Patagonians have in some instances been exaggerated, it is certain, that all, who have affirmed their stature to be gigantic, were not under the influence of fear; and it is very strange, that nations,
who have an hereditary hatred to each other, and an acknowledged oppofition of interest, should agree in asserting an evident falsehood.
“ In the first place, it is well known to have been an opinion long established, both in oar ancient world and in America, that there was once a race of giants upon earth, who distinguished themselves by violence and guilt.
66 Barbenais was told by the inhabitants of South America, that, a deluge having laid Peru under water, the Indians retired to the mountains till the flood should subside; and that when they came again down to the plain, they found there men of an enormous ftature, who attacked them with great ferocity, killing many, and driving the rest to the caves of the rocks; but that having continued in their hiding places many years, they saw in the air a young man who destroyed the giants by thunderbolts, and thus restored to them the possession of their country. His guides also shewed him many marks upon a rock, which they said were impressed by the thunderbolts ; and many bones of an extraordinary size, which they believed to be the remains of the giants; but they did
not pretend to know when the deluge happened. Pedro de " The Ynca Garcilaso de la Vega, in his history Cieca, ch. of Peru, relates, that according to a tradition univer52. Garcilar
2. Hitt, du fally received, a number of vessels or junks came to Perou, liv. Point Saint Helena with a company of giants on board, ix, chap. 9. of a stature so enormous that the natives of the coun
try were not higher than their knees: that their eyes were as broad as the bottom of a plate, and their limbs proportionably large : that some of them were naked, and others slightly covered with the skins of beasts : that when they came on shore, they dug a pit of an astonishing depth in the rock, and each of them consuming as much provisions as would be sufficient for fifty men, the country was soon exhausted, and they were obliged to live upon fish : that they seized the women of the country, to whom their brutality was faial; and afterwards giving themselves up to worse vices, the whole race was destroyed by fire from Heaven, which however left their bones unconsumed, as a lasting memorial of Divine vengeance. Bones of an
amazing amazing size are said to have been found in this country, and fragments of teeth, which, if they were whole, must have weighed half a pound.
“ Those who wish to know all the particulars of these American traditions, may satisfy their curiosity by reading Torquemado, lib. 1. chap. 13 and 14, where they will find that these fables are very similar to those relative to the same subject in other parts of the world, The bones, said to have been the bones of giants, which have been found in America, and which were shewn at Mexico and other places in the year 1550, are probably the bones of some animal unknown; and indeed nothing less than the sight of such a race of human beings, or of an entire skeleton, can be admitted as a proof of their existence. Turner, the naturalist, reports, that in the year 1610, the thigh bone of a man was shewn in London, who must have been of an enormous size; but this testimony is not decisive; though the author adds, that he had himself seen near the river Plata, upon the coast of Brasil, a race of giants who went stark naked; that the hinder part of their heads was flat, and not round; that the women had long black hair, as coarse as a horse's mane ; that the men were excellent archers, and, besides their bow and arrows, carried two massive balls or bullets, each fastened to one end of a thong, a weapon which they used with great dexterity and force, either by striking with it, or throwing it like a stone from a sling. One of these giants, he says, was twelve feet high ; but acknowledges that he saw no other so tall.
“Of this fact there are other ocular witnesses, who perhaps may be thought more worthy of credit : among the Spaniards, Magellan, Loaisa, Sarmiento, and Nodal: among the English, Cavendith, Hawkins, and Knivet; among the Dutch, Sebald, de Noort, le Maire, and Spilberg; and among the French, those who went in the expedition from Marseilles and Saint Maloes. Those who bear testimony to the contrary, are Winter, the Dutch Admiral Ilermite, Froger in de Gennes's Narrative, and Sir John Narborough. Winter, after having himself seen the inhabitants of Patagonia, says, in direct terms, that the accounts of their being giants are fälschoods, invented by the Spaniards; and it must be confessed, that the testimony of these navigators at least counterbalances the evidence on the other side, especially as they were best acquainted with the Streight of Magellan, and the neighbouring country. Such navigators as have visited this country, and are silent with respect to the stature of the inhabitants, particularly Sir Francis Drake, must be considered as witnesses against the fact in question ; for their silence is a proof that they saw nothing extraordinary. It must, however, be observed, in the first place, that the greater part of those, who hold the affirmative in this question, speak of people that inhabited the desert coast of Patagonia to the east and west ; and that, on the contrary, those who hold the negative, speak of those who inhabit the Streight upon the sides of the utmost point of America to the north and south. The nations of these two diftri&ts are certainly not the same; and if the first have sometimes been seen in the Streight, it cannot be thought strange, considering how short the distance is from Port Saint Julian, which appears to be their ordinary habitation. Magellan and his people saw them there very often, and trafficked with them, sometimes on board his ships, and sometimes on shore: nor was this all, he seized two of them, and kept them prisoners in his vessel; one of whom was baptized some time before his death, and taught several words of his language to Pigafette, who formed them into a little dictionary: these are facts than which nothing can be more pofitive, or less subject to illusion.
" I affirm, says Knivet, that when I was at Port Desire I measured several dead bodies that I found buried there, which were from fourteen to sixteen spans high, and saw tracks in the sand which must have been left by people of nearly the same stature. I have also frequently seen at Brazil one of the Patagonians who had been taken at Port Saint Julian, and though he was but a youth, he measured no less than thirteen fpans: and our English prisoners at Brazil have afsured me that they had seen many men of the same ftatușe upon the coasts of the Streight.” Sebald de
English pritomany imeno Sebald eft
Wert says, that when he was in the Streight, he faw giants of the same bulk, who tore up trees by the roots, that were a span in diameter, with great facility; he also saw women that were gigantic, and others of the common stature. Oliver de Noert reports, that he saw savages of a gigantic stature at Port Desire, but does not call them giants : that he took fix of them prisoners, and carried them on board his ship, one of whom afterwards told him that the country was inhabited by many different nations, four of which were of the ordinary stature : but that fa:ther within the land, in a territory called Coin, there was a gigantic people, distinguished by the name of Tiremenen, who were continually making war upon the other nam tions. Spilberg relates, that he saw a man of an extraordinary stature upon the coast of Terra del Fuego, but that the sepulchres which he found, had received men of the common height. Aris-Clasz, who was on board La Maire's fleet in the character of Commissary, a man well worthy of credit, declares, that having visited the sepulchres which he discovered upon the coast of Patagonia, he found the bones of men who were between ten and eleven feet high, which convinced him that the reports of former navigators were true; and here it must be confessed that the examination was made in cold blood, when it cannot be pretended that the object was magnified by fear. Some others, particularly Nodel and Sir Richard Hawkins, content themselves with saying that these Lavages were a head taller than the inhabitants of Europe, and of such a stature that the people on board their vessels called them giants. Such is the evidence of past times ; we shall now consider that of the age in which we live. In 1704, the Captains Harrington and Carman, who commanded two French vessels, one from Saint Maloes, and the other from Marseilles, saw at one time seven of these giants in Possession Bay, at another time six, and at a third time they had an interview with a company of more than four hundred men, part of whom were gigantic, and part of the common stature. That Harrington and Carman reported this fact, is attested by M. Frezier, superintendant of the fortifications of Bretagne, a man well
1904, the two Frencharseilles,