Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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and that unless her voice is heard declaiming against the tyrannies and treacheries of Rome all the spiritual labours of the eighth Henry will have been in vain.
No fewer than eight Bonfire Societies flourish in the town, all in a strong financial position. Each of these has'its bonfire blazing or smouldering at a street corner, from dusk to mid­night, and each, at a certain stage in the evening, forms into procession, and approaching its own fire by devious routes, burns an effigy of the Pope, together with whatever miscreant most fills the public eye at the moment—such as General Booth or Mr. Kruger, both of whom I have seen incinerated amid cheers and detonations.
The figures are not lightly cast upon the flames, but are conducted thither ceremoniously, the " Bishop " of the society having first passed sentence upon them in a speech bristling with local allusions. These speeches serve the function of a revue of the year and are sometimes quite clever, but it is not until they are printed in the next morning's paper that one can take their many points. The principal among the many dis­tractions is the " rouser," a squib peculiar to Lewes, to which the bonfire boys (who are, by the way, in great part boys only in name, like the postboys of the past and the cowboys of the present) have given laborious nights throughout the preceding October. The rouser is much larger and heavier than the ordinary squib; it is propelled through the air like a rocket by the force of its escaping sparks; and it bursts with a terrible report. In order to protect themselves from the ravages of the rouser the people in the streets wear spectacles of wire netting, while the householders board up their windows and lay damp straw on their gratings. Ordinary squibs and crackers are also continuously ignited, while now and then one of the sky rockets discharged in flights from a procession, elects to take a horizontal course, and hurtles head-high down the crowded street.
So the carnival proceeds until midnight, when the firemen,
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