A correspondent of mine writing from Hampshire says : " This is November 5th, ' bonfire night.' It always astonishes me how little Liphook and many other places know of a Guy Fawkes." The boys, it appears, let ofif fireworks, light a public bonfire, and for days beforehand run about in masks, but they have no Guy. " In my life I never saw one ; they never had one at Wakefield (Yorkshire). On the other hand, at Southampton, and within a few miles of here, the Guy is the great feature and the fire the necessary second ; though at Bosham, near Chichester, I am told, certain men are called 'bonfire boys,' and they dress up every year in fancy dresses and have a procession, and wind up with a bonfire ; but there is no Guy. I suppose it shows that the bonfire is the older institution ; yet when history is taught in every school it is strange that the children should so soon forget the later idea of ' Guy Fawkes Day.' " Then my friend goes on to inquire, " Which is the commoner, ' Guy Fawkes Day ' with a Guy to carry round, or ' Bonfire Night ' with no Guy to burn ? "
It may be that originally Guy was only burnt in efifigy in the parishes where the Reformation and its results were popular. No doubt, in many counties the religious sympathies of the people would prevent any great detestation of Fawkes and his fellow- plotters. For instance, we should scarcely expect to find Guys in the Roman Catholic parts of Lancashire or Yorkshire, or even in those villages of now Wesley-following Lincolnshire which furnished men to help in the rising against Henry VIII. 's innovations, for long after that king's death a grudge against the Reformation and all its promoters must have rankled.
Where can information be found on the British and the con- tinental autumn-fires, and are November autumn-fires mentioned in manorial records, &c., before the time of the Gunpowder Plot ?
In Wiirtemberg, some twenty years ago, I heard a great explosion of firearms, which I was told signified that the grape-harvest was over, but I do not remember whether bonfires were lighted or not.
Very little seems to have been recorded as to the details of Guy Fawkes celebrations. When I was making collections for Shropshire Folklore I was told that it was or had been customary at the farmhouses to have a bonfire on the 5th of November, which agreed with the impression I had derived in childhood