The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
Everyone (in Britain) knows the first three lines, and none of the rest. Sort of like the national anthem. But November the 5th is fireworks night in Britain. Every year we commemorate Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament by building bonfires which have on top of them a “guy”, a stuffed manikin who gets consumed in the flames while we all let off fireworks around the blaze.
Clearly our attitudes towards this sort of thing have evolved. Here’s a picture of the title page and fold-out frontispiece of The Juvenile Book for Making Fireworks: Being the Art of Manufacturing Crackers, Squibs etc.etc., c. 1837. Attractively priced at Threepence: no child should be without a copy! It is shown here, with another similar publication at Princeton’s Firestone Library’s Graphic Arts site.