Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason

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Bonfire Anthem

Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to

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The Lewes Rouser Squib - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations

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The Lewes Rouser . .

Time was when, in the minds of men,
I were a thing of joy untold.
My memories ring when I reigned as king,
In the bygone days of old.

Oh! I whizzed through the night in a fiery flight,
right in the midst of the fray,
into the throng, scurrying along,
I wound my sinuous way.

I scattered the mud like the flying scud,
I leapt through the firelit space,
belching sparks, leaving my marks,
I darted from place to place.

See, the maidens fly with a frightened cry,
I laugh at their great distress.
But the faster they run, the greater the fun,
for my unwelcome attentions I press.

On the county hall my sparks would fall
on the maid of justices frail,
By the bishops face I would madly race,
leaving a blazing trail.

Away I would dart to the old white hart,
scattering the mob far and near,
then back with a rush into the crush
I banged out my mad career.

Now an empty shuck, I lay in the ruck,
a victim to bigot and spleen,
despite all entreats I`m barred from the streets,
the streets where my home once had been.

Though my glory is past, my memories may last,
and be sung by poet and bard,
Remember, remember, oh boys of November,
that at least I died hard.

Squib : 1907

Lewes Rouser : Squib

The above poem refers to The Lewes Rouser or Squib which was a home made firework about 6″ long with a thickness of a marker pen, the Lewes Rouser had a very unpredictable nature and basically it would shoot along the ground in many different directions and climbing  up walls emitting fiery sparks before going bang, but in what direction it was anyone’s guess. The Lewes Rouser or Squib was banned by the authorities in 1904 and by the bonfire society’s in the 50s that’s not to say they were not seen any more!, in fact I have seen several variations fairly recently.

The Lewes Rouser was unpredictable in manufacture as well, with many tales of front doors being blown of its hinges in little 2 up / 2 down town houses where a rouser has blown up whilst drying out in a cast iron pan on top of the fire stove ! . The Lewes Rouser was  also used at times to help clear out many a chimney in big posh houses and buildings.

Neither catalogue nor boxes take any account of the most terrible firework that exists. This is the Lewes Rouser. The Rouser is a form of squib made expressly for use at Lewes, where the Fifth is observed sacredly, year after year. The carnival is threatened regularly on every Sixth, but, behold, the next November sees it as riotous as ever it was. It is a relic of Merrie England a pandemonium of fire and excess. Lewes is given over to the fire worshippers.

Huge blazes are kindled and fed in the midst of the streets, processions parade the town from dusk to midnight, fantastically garbed, discharging rockets and roman candles as they move, effigies of the pope and other persons worthy, in the eyes of Lewes, of execration are at intervals consigned to the flames by the bishops of the various bonfire societies involved and the next morning the county paper contains full reports of their damnatory speeches.

These bear ironically upon public events, after the manner of the Westminster epilogue, but without its wit, so fierce a rain of fire plays upon the town that the householders board their windows and cover their gratings with wet straw. Such is the scene of the rouser and the rouser is worthy of it, This fearsome creature is half a squib and half a rocket, you light him and let him go, huge silver sparks (said to be the effect of steel filings) pour from him in such volume as to raise him from the ground and project him through the air with the speed of a Rocket.

After half a minute of this apalling exuberance, he bursts with the detonation of a Woolwich Infant, Imagine fifty of these bursting at the same instant in every direction, accompanied by such lesser fry as the ordinary squib and cracker, and you realise why the Lewes amateur wears wire spectacles and his oldest clothes. Of all home made fireworks the rouser is best. But as a factor in back garden displays ? No.

Pall Mall Gazette 1892

Posted in: Lewes Bonfire History, Poems and Verse Tagged in: ,

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