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- The American Goliah - 4/10 -
was adopted. Yet, when the water was undisturbed and clear, the whole could be seen perfectly plain. Later in the day Dr. J.F. Boynton, the geologist, drove out with Mr. John Geenway, the water was bailed out, and Dr. B. made a thorough inspection of his Giantship, put his arms under the neck, and fairly hugged the monster. The general impression is, that it is a petrifaction of one of those large human beings of which all of us have heard so much in our youthful days, and have read accounts of in maturer years--not here, but somewhere else. A book lies before us, having account of several, varying from eight to eleven feet; but we stop not to extract therefrom. Prof. Boynton, from a hasty examination, is of opinion that it is a work of art--a sculpture from stone. If this theory be correct, it would be scarcely less interesting than if a petrifaction. In the one case arises the speculation as to a gigantic race of beings that may have inhabited portions of this "new world" hundreds of years before Columbus discovered it; the other as to how long ago the artist did the work, and where came he, or his ancestors, from? Men nigh on to a hundred years, and who have resided in the county seventy of them, have never heard allusion to such a thing; the Indian traditions speak not of it. The record of the first white man in this region--Catholic Jesuits--is of something over two hundred years. That record preserves matters of less interest than this would be, but not this. Then again we say it would have scarcely less interest as a work of the chisel, than a petrifaction.
Our city is talking about the Giant. The story has passed from one to another till very many, probably ten thousand, of our citizens have already heard it. The interest is great in it, insomuch that it has been almost impossible for us to thus disjointedly write about the great wonder, because of the constant interruption by visitors who are anxious to hear from one who has actually seen.
From the Syracuse Courier, Oct 18th, 1869.
On Saturday morning last the quiet little village of Cardiff, which lies in the valley about twelve miles south of Syracuse, was thrown into an excitement without precedent, by the report that a human body had been exhumed in a petrified state, the colossal dimensions of which had never been the fortune of the inhabitants of the little village to behold, and the magnitude of which was positively beyond the comprehension or the understanding of the wise men of the valley. We are told that there were giants on the earth once; and, if the reports of those who have investigated this discovery are true, and that they are we have no doubt, this stony man--who for hundreds of years may have slept untouched and undisturbed, had it not been for the rude hand of a Cardiff farmer--must have been one of them. The excitement in and around Cardiff extended until it reached the City of Salt, and all day yesterday the discovery was the chief topic of conversation at the hotels and public places in the city. Of course, the most extravagant stories were told, and greedily devoured up by gaping listeners. Some would have it that the body exhumed was twenty-five feet high, and proportionately large. All day yesterday crowds visited the scene of the discovery, and returned to tell the tale of the wonderful discovery to their eager friends.
From the Standard, October 23d.
LETTER FROM REV. MR. CALTHROP. DEAR SIR--As everyone is deeply interested in the Onondaga Giant, perhaps it may be as well for each of us to add his mite towards guessing at the solution of the problem he has silently set us all.
It is no wonder that so many are of opinion that he is a gigantic petrifaction. His proportions are so perfect, and his appearance is so life like. I will add, that every one wants to think so. If he proved to be a petrifaction, what a realm of awe and mysterious conjecture would he open to us. But I, for one, feel convinced that he will prove to be statue, and for these reasons:--
First, I think there are evident marks of stratification in the stone. The left eyebrow and the top of the nose are the parts most elevated. These correspond exactly, both being composed of a white layer. On the chest is a squarish layer of a dark tinge; around, and slightly below this, is another layer corresponding exactly with the ins and outs of the first. Beyond, and below this, another and another all alike, seeming to be simply lines of stratification. The level seems exactly kept. Follow with your eye any two adjacent lines, and you will see that where they are close to each other the surface has an abrupt change of level; where they are further apart the surface is nearly horizontal. Where the surface approaches the perpendicular, as on the sides, the dark line showing the separation of the strata is thin, because it has been cut through nearly at right angles. Where the surface is more horizontal the dark line is broader, because it has been cut through obliquely, the breadth varying steadily with the angle of inclination. The same can be plainly seen along the right leg.
Another strong reason for its being a statue lies in the fact that not a single limb is detached. The right arm is not merely glued to the body throughout, as well as the hand, but it has the appearance of only being cut into the stone to a depth sufficient to give due relief. This is equally true of the left arm, and of the two legs, which are joined to each other throughout. The sculptor has not wasted a stroke of the chisel. I would add here, that between the third and fourth fingers of the right hand, the slit is carried too far toward the wrist, seemingly by a slip of the chisel.
Who did it? A trained sculptor; one who had seen, studied and probably reproduced many a work of art; one who was thoroughly acquainted with human anatomy. One, too, who had noble original powers; for none but such could have formed and wrought out the conception of that stately head, with its calm, grand smile, so full of mingled sweetness and strength.
He appears, however, to have worked under certain disadvantages. He had not such command of materials as a civilized country could have afforded him. He had to put up with the best stone he could find. I think that the peculiar posture of the statue can be fairly explained by supposing that the original block tapered away toward the feet, and was only just about the breadth of the statue as we now see it. This seems fairly to explain the curious position of the left arm. The artist had to put it there because there was not breadth enough to put it in any other position. So of the position of the feet--one over the other. The stone may not have been wide enough to have admitted of any other position. Who was he? Let us analyze a little.
In the ancient world, only the Greek School of Art was capable of such a perfect reproduction of the human form. I have seen no Egyptian or Assyrian sculpture which approached this in anatomical accuracy.
Throughout the middle ages till the great Art Revival, no one in Europe had skill enough for the purpose. It appears, therefore, that unless we adopt the somewhat strained hypothesis that a highly civilized society, now utterly extinct, once existed on this continent, we are forced to search for our sculptor among the European adventurers who have sought homes in North America during the last three centuries, as no one, I presume, is prepared to maintain a that the statue has a Greek or Roman origin, unless, indeed, it was brought over as an antique by some forgotten amateur of art.
Was it not then as Dr. Boynton suggests, some one from that French colony, which occupied Salina and Pompey Hill, and Lafayette? Some one with an artist's soul, sighing over the lost civilization of Europe, weary of swamp and forests, and fort, finding this block by the side of the stream solaced the weary days of exile with pouring out his thought upon the stone. The only other hypothesis remaining is that of a gross fraud. One need only say with regard to this that such a fraud would require the genius of a sculptor joined to the skill and audacity of a Jack Sheppard.
But lastly, what did he intend it to represent? Had he known of the discovery of America by the northmen, he might have had in his thoughts some gigantic Brown, or Erio, or Harold. The old northman is shot through with an Indian's poisoned arrow; his body is dying, as the tight pressed limbs express; but the strong soul still rules the face, which smiles grandly in death. If you had objected that there was too much mind shining through the features, the sculptor might have answered that the closed eyes saw in prophetic vision that men of his race would one day rule where he had lain down to die. But this is rather too high flown, so I had better conclude. Yours, S.R. CALTHROP.
LETTER FAVORING PETRIFACTION.
MR. EDITOR:--It needs no apology to address you upon a subject that is now engaging the constant attention of all your readers and thousands besides, and if any person can throw any light upon the subject it would seem to be their duty to communicate it to the public. While there has been much speculation and wonder as to the nature and origin of the marvelous curiosity found last Saturday in the town of Lafayette, in this county, there has been made public no argument from scientific men up to this time to settle the doubts and convictions of the unlearned. In the suggestions which I shall make upon the subject, I regret that I have not the benefit of a more extended knowledge of the sciences which pertain to the subject, but having earnest convictions, supported apparently by plausible reasons, I submit them to the consideration of the public for whatever weight they may be entitled to.
The advocates of the theory that the subject in question is a statue, have too many difficulties to overcome to establish their position.
If the subject is a statue it must have been formed by some person, who once lived, and had an object or motive for making it. Who can say what that object was? It must have been formed by a person of wonderful genius and skill. Where and when did such a person exist? History gives no account of him. Its formation and object must have been known to many persons who assisted in its manufacturing and transportation. Where are those persons?
The objections to the theory that the figure in question is a statue, may be briefly described as follows:
1st. This figure, if made by human hand, was intended to be exhibited; otherwise there can be no motive for making it. If it was intended to be exhibited, it was also designed to assume some position, either an erect or recumbent one. The reasons for keeping it in that position would have been provided by the sculptor, by either making a pedestal for it to stand upon, a tablet for it to lie on, or forming the body on the stone out of which it was cut, so that it would lie upon a flat surface. Nothing of this kind is
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