Fifth Of November
: CUSTOM RHYMES
: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales
The fifth of November,
Since I can remember,
Gunpowder treason and plot:
This was the day the plot was contriv'd,
To blow up the King and Parliament alive;
But God's mercy did prevent
To save our King and his Parliament.
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take tw
The better for me,
And the worse for you!
This is the Oxfordshire song chanted by the boys when collecting sticks
for the bonfire, and it is considered quite lawful to appropriate any
old wood they can lay their hands on after the recitation of these
lines. If it happen that a crusty chuff prevents them, the threatening
finale is too often fulfilled. The operation is called going a
progging, but whether this is a mere corruption of prigging, or
whether progging means collecting sticks (brog, Scot. Bor.), I am
unable to decide. In some places they shout, previously to the burning
of the effigy of Guy Fawkes--
A penn'orth of bread to feed the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him;
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a good old faggot to burn him.
The metropolis and its neighbourhood are still annually visited by
subdued vestiges of the old customs of the bonfire-day. Numerous parties
of boys parade the streets with effigies of Guy Fawkes, but pence, not
antipopery, is the object of the exhibition, and the evening fires have
generally been exchanged for the mischievous practice of annoying
passengers with squibs and crackers. The spirit and necessity of the
display have expired, and the lover of old customs had better be
contented to hear of it in history; even although the special service
for the day, still retained in our Prayer-book, may tend to recognise
the propriety of external rejoicings.