Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/175

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Collectanea. 165

there were processions of people in all kinds of fancy dresses ; a very large number of the bystanders were also in fancy dresses ; fireworks were let off, constantly and at random ; often as many as a dozen squibs were rushing about or exploding within the space of half a furlong in the street. Three bonfires were kept alight all the evening. Each procession was headed by a band : many of the processionists carried torches, there were several banners, and each procession was closed by an iron truck on which was a blazing tar-barrel, the heat from which was intolerable. About ten o'clock effigies of Guy Fawkes and of the Bishop of Rome were burned at three places in the town.

An old man, Morgan by name, who had the care of the Castle, told me that he believed the celebrations of the 5th were as old as the time of Queen Mary, in whose reign several men were burned alive at Lewes j he, however, seemed to be very uncertain, and not at all clear in his memory. A young man told me that the celebrations were not (in their present form) more than a hundred and fifty years old, and that it was within the last forty years that they had been developed ; some ten or fifteen years years back all the processionists wore blue and white striped guernseys, white trousers, and scarlet caps; the fancy costumes came later on.

One young man told me that bonfires are lit and fireworks let off ail over Sussex on the 5th of November, and that in South Africa, where there are many " Leweses " (so he called the people of Lewes) " bonfire night " is observed with great spirit. He had had a letter from New Zealand informing him that about forty settlers, some of whom were natives of Lewes, whilst others had been in that town on November 5th, had got up a bonfire and firework demonstration, to the great delight of the people of the neighbourhood, who had never before seen such a thing, and asked to have it repeated. (1891.)

September, 1899, I was told at Lewes that on the occasion of lighting up the bonfires on the fifth of November, there is a mock bishop, a mock service, and the bonfire boys have prayers of their own. The whole affair commemorates the martyrdoms at Lewes in Queen Mary's time, and it is as flourishing as ever, "particularly since these ritualistic times."