Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


6o Collectanea.

accompanied by many young men of the town, they made a round of the countryside and the town, singing the Morning Song in front of the more important houses. Then followed some hours of rest and preparation, until at lo a.m. the merry- makers assembled at the " Golden Lion " for the day's rejoicing. The " Hobby Hoss," a formidable-looking creature, with tall cap, flowing plume and tail, savage-looking snappers, and a ferocious mask, sallied forth, accompanied by the " Pairs," carrying each a musical instrument, of which the drum is the most prominent. Before the "Hobby Hoss" danced a man in a terrible dwarf mask, carrying a club. This dancer lead the way everywhere, followed throughout the day by the " Hobby Hoss," and a vast crowd of men and women gaily decorated with flowers and singing the May Songs, while the men fired in all directions pistols loaded with powder. The " Hobby Hoss " proceeded to the Vicarage, and to Treator Pool " to drink," then returned to Padstow and made a tour of the streets, dancing and singing before all the houses visited in the night. Money was freely collected, to be afterwards shared by the " Hobby Hoss " and the " Pairs." The " Hobby Hoss " was always a source of terror to all strangers, even men seeing it for the first time fleeing from it with alacrity ; particularly the crews of foreign vessels which happen to be in the quay at Padstow on May Day, will fly terror-stricken into the rigging of the ships.

But, whatever the origin of the custom may have been, the " Hobby Hoss " is quite harmless in itself, and its good graces can always be secured by a contribution to the funds of the merry-makers.

Formerly the " Hobby Hoss " was welcomed and followed by almost the entire population of Padstow, but in latter years the custom has greatly declined. Still the " Hobby Hoss " regularly sallies forth on each May Day, and the contributions to the funds are sufficient to ensure its celebration for some time to come.

Although the custom is absurdly grotesque, its great age should prevent its entire abolition, and it is hoped by all Padstonians, whether at home or in " Foreign parts," that the " Hoss " will continue its annual prance for many years.