A huge country affixed to the western coast of North America
, and separated from it by a chain of volcano
es. It was discovered by Captain John Nicholas
on 16 June 1703.
The first description of it in European lands came in the account of Captain Lemuel Gulliver, one of Captain Nicholas's crew, who had the misfortune to be left behind when their ship was restocking with fresh water. Gulliver found the country to be inhabited and cultivated by beings of a monstrous size, but otherwise resembling humans and being rational; and in which all the animals and plants were likewise proportioned. He was cared for by them, particularly by a girl Glumdalclitch, and came to be known among them as Grildrig, which is to say homunculus.
The capital of Brobdingrag was at Lorbrulgrud, where dwelt the royal court, and there is another city of Flanflasnic. The country had very little learning, only morality, history, poetry, and mathematicks, and that last was merely put to practical ends. No law could be longer than 22 words. Many are shorter. One forbids the writing of commentary on law, on pain of death.
Gulliver recorded a few words of the Brobdingragian language, which was written in an alphabet of 22 letters.
- glonglung = measure of distance, about 18 miles
- grildrig = homunculus
- grultrud = cryer
- Lorbrulgrud = Pride of the Universe
- slardral = gentleman usher
- splacknuck = a kind of animal
Note. Because of the carelessness
of Gulliver's printers in England, the name of Brobdingrag was misprint
ed as Brobdingnag in the first edition. Captain Gulliver points this out along with other remonstration
s in a letter to his cousin Sympson
, dated 2 April 1727, and prefaced to the work. The name Brobdingnag and the letter occur in all modern editions of Gulliver's Travels
. Nevertheless the incorrect name has remained in currency, and has given rise to the adjective brobdingnagian
, meaning prodigious