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result of joy, or merely to show agility. Still less can I agree with Moresin,* that this custom is a relic of the ordeal, according to which he who passed safely through the flames was held to be innocent; for the bonfires are a much more ancient observance than the ordeal. It is, I should rather imagine, a religious rite of very remote origin, such as I have already spoken of under the month of May, and I need now only add that a similar custom prevailed in the Cerealia, and is also mentioned in Ovid's Fasti, as being of the superstitious ceremonies used in the Palilia, or feasts of Pales the presiding Goddess of gardens.†

Chancellor, Master of the Temple, Judges, and Benchers, retired into their Parliament chamber; and in about half an hour afterwards, came into the hall again, and a large ring was formed round the fireplace, but no fire nor embers were on it. Then the master of the revels, who went first, took the Lord Chancellor by the right hand; and he with his left took Mr. J. Page, who, joined to the other judges, serjeants, and benchers, danced, or rather walked, round about the coal-fire, according to the old ceremony, three times, during which they were aided by Mr. George Cooke, the prothonotary, then upwards of 60; and all the time of the dance, the antient song, accompanied with music, was sung by one Toby Aston, dressed in a bar gown, whose father had been formerly master of the Plea Office in the King's Bench."

* "Flammam transiliendi mos videtur etiam priscis Græciæ temporibus usurpatus fuisse, deque eo versus Sophoclis in Antigone quidam intelligendos putant. Cum enim rex Creon Polynicis cadaver humare prohibuisset, Antigone autem ipsius soror illud humo contexisset, custodes, ut mortis pænam à rege constitutam vitarent, dicebant se paratos esse ferrum candens manibus contrectare et per pyram incedere. Hotoman. Disput. De Feudis, cap. 44. Hic mos Gallis, Germanis, et post Christianismum remansit etiam pontificibus ; et adulteria uxorum ferro candente probant Germani.-Moresini Papatus, p. 61.

+"Moxque per ardentes stipulæ crepitantis acervos

Trajicias celeri strenua membra pede."

Ovidii Fastorum, lib. iv. 1. 781.

These bonfires, however they may have originated, have been common on St. John the Baptist's Eve at all times and in all countries. They blazed equally in India and Egypt, in the north and amongst the Druids, from the last of whom the custom was in all probability more immediately derived to us. In Cornwall the day was anciently called Goluan, a word, as Borlase tells us, expressive both of light and joy,* while in other parts of the west they had the name of Blessing Fires, a tolerably plain hint of their religious origin.† That this has at all times been the notion of the Christian world is plain from the interdictions of the Roman Catholics and the comments of the more rigid dissenters. Prynne in his Histriomastix (p. 585), quotes the sixty-fifth canon of the sixth Council of Constantinople, wherein we read, Those bonfires that are kindled by certaine people on New Moones before their shops and houses, over which also they use ridiculously and foolishly to leape, by a certaine antient custome, we command them from henceforth to cease. Whoever therefore shall doe any such thing, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be excommunicated. For in the fourth

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Booke of the Kings it is thus written: 'And Manasses built an altar to all the hoast of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord's house, and made his children to passe through the fire, &c., and walked in it that he might doe evill in the sight of the Lord to provoke him

* Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 130.

"Neddy that was wont to make

Such great feasting at the wake

And the blessing-fire."

Shepherd's Pipe-W. Browne's Works, vol. iii. p. 53. London,


A note appended to this says, "the Midsummer fires are termed so in the west parts of England."

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to wrath." In the marginal note to this translation of the Latin version from the original Greek canon, Prynne austerely observes "bonefires therefore had their originall from this idolatrous custome as this generall Councell hath defined; therefore all Christians should avoid them." But how differently does the same observance read when told in the pleasant language of Stow."In the months of June and July," says the cheerful old man, on the vigils of festival days, and on the same festival days in the evenings after the sun setting, there were usually made bonfires in the streets, every man bestowing wood or labour towards them; the wealthier sort also, before their doors near to the said bonfires, would set out tables on the vigils, furnished with sweet bread and good drink, and on the festival days with meats and drinks plentifully, whereunto they would invite their neighbours and passengers also to sit and be merry with them in great familiarity, praising God for his benefits bestowed on them. These were called bonfires "—(another derivation of the word!)" as well of good amity amongst neighbours that, being before at controversy, were there by the labour of others reconciled and made of bitter enemies loving friends; and also for the virtue that a great fire hath to purge the infection of the air. On the vigil of St. John the Baptist, and on St. Peter and St. Paul, the Apostles, every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St. John's wort, orpin, white lilies, and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all the night; some hung out branches of iron curiously wrought containing hundreds of lamps alight at once,

* i.e. garlands of with or willow, upon which the flowers were wreathed.

which made a goodly show, namely, in New Fish Street, Thames Street,* &c."

This pleasing picture is in a great measure confirmed by other writers, and even by one, who speaks of the custom only incidentally, and in illustration of his doctrines. "Seie to me," says Bishop Pecock,† "good sire, and answere hereto; whanne men of the cuntree uplond bringen into Loudoun in Mydsomer-eve braunchis of trees fro Bischopis-wode, and flouris for the feeld, and bitaken tho to citessins of Londoun, for to therwith araie her§ housis, schulen men of Londoun receyving and taking the braunchis and flouris, seie and holde, that the braunchis grewen out of the cartis, which broughten hem to Londoun, and that the cartis, or the hondis of the bringers weren groundis and fundamentis of the braunchis and flouris? Goddis forbade so litel Iwitt be in her hedis. Certes though Crist and his apostlis weren now lyvyng in Londoun, and wolde bringe, so as is now seid, braunchis fro Bischopis-wode, and flouris fro the feelde into Londoun, and wolden hem delyvere to men, that thei make therwith her housis gay into remembrance of St. John the Baptist, and of this that was prophecied of him, that manye schulden joie in his burthe, &c."||

Hutchinson also in his history of Northamptonshire, shows that the day was celebrated with kindred festivities, as indeed it no doubt was through the whole island. His words are, "another custom used on this day, is to dress out stools with a cushion of flowers. A lair of

* Stow's Survey, p. 39. 8vo. London, 1842.

Lewis' Life of Reynold Pecock, p. 49. 8vo. Oxford, 1820.

i.e. them.

§ i.e. their.

|| Reynold Pecock was Bishop of St. Asaph and Chichester in the reign of Henry VI.

clay is placed on the stool, and therein is stuck with great regularity an arrangement of all kinds of flowers. so close as to form a beautiful cushion; these are exhibited at the doors of houses in the villages, and at the ends of streets and cross lanes of larger towns where the attendants beg money from passengers, to enable them to have an evening feast and dancing. This custom is evidently derived from the Ludi Compitalii of the Romans; this appellation was taken from the Compita, or cross lanes, where they were instituted and celebrated by the multitude assembled before the building of Rome. Servius Tullius revived this festival after it had been neglected for many years. It was the feast of the Lares or household Gods, who presided as well over houses as streets. This mode of adorning the seat or couch of the Lares was beautiful, and the idea of reposing them on aromatic flowers and beds of roses was excellent. The chief part of the ceremonies and solemnities of this feast used by the Romans, as we are told by the poets and historians, was exhibiting the household Gods, crowning and adorning them with chaplets and garlands of flowers, and offering sacrifices up and down the streets. Suetonius tells us that Augustus ordered the Lares to be crowned twice a year. We are not told there was any custom among the Romans of strangers or passengers offering gifts. Our modern usage of all these old customs terminates in seeking to gain money for a merry night."*

Before quitting this part of my subject, I have yet a few words to add in regard to bonfires. This term has been derived by some from the circumstance of the fires having been originally made of bones. Thus Fuller says, "Some deduce it from fires made of bone relating it to

* A VIEW OF NORTHUMBERLAND. By W. Hutchinson. vol. ii.— appendix on Ancient Customs, p. 16, 4to. Newcastle, 1778.

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