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On this day was "the custom of Soul-Mass-Cakes, which are a kind of oat-cakes, that some of the richer sort of persons in Lancashire and Herefordshire (among the Papists there) use still to give the poor on this day; and they in retribution of their charity hold themselves obliged to say this old couplet :
God have your soul,
Archbishop Kennett speaks of a somewhat similar custom as existing in Shropshire. He says "in Shropshire the custom now remains that on All-Souls-Day, November 2, they set on a board a high heap of small cakes, which they call SOUL-CAKES, of which they offer one to every person, who comes to the house that day; and there is an old rhyme, which seems to have been sung by the family and guests.
A soul-cake, a soul-cake;
Have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul-cake.†
The same custom is mentioned, and with very little
pravis ac reprobis hominibus debebatur. Nam quandocumque in illis partibus reprobus dives moritur, ignis erumpere de prædicto mōte videtur, tantaque sulphureæ resinæ congeries ex ipso Vesuvio protinus fluit, ut torrentem faciat, atque decurrente impetu in mare descedat." P. DAMIANI EPISTOLE. Epist. IX. p. 31. 4to. Parisiis. 1610.-But the whole of this epistle, which is addressed to no less a person than Pope Nicolas II, is full of such marvels as could hardly be believed except upon the authority of a Cardinal-Bishop, the favourite of Popes and Princes, who was not unfrequently dragged from his beloved solitude to interfere in their worldly arrangements, and to fulfil the high duties of a Cardinal legate, and who appears to have had in his hands the government of the whole Christian church. See his life in the HISTOIRE GENERALE DES AUTEURS SACRES ET ECCLESIASTIQUES, ch. xxxiii. p. 512. tome 20. 4to. Paris, 1757.
* FESTA ANGLO-ROMANA, p. 109.
KENNETT'S COLLECTIONS. MS. Bibl. Lansdown. No. 1039. vol. 105, page 12.
variation even in the words, by Aubrey;* * "In Salop, &c. die oium animarum (All-Soule's-Day, November 2nd) there is sett on the board a high heap of Soule-cakes, lyeing one upon another like the picture of the shew-bread in the old bibles. They are about the bignesse of 2o cakes, and all the visitants that day take one; and there is an old rhythme or saying:
A soule-cake! a soule-cake!
Have mercy on all christian souls for a soule-cake.
This custome is continued to this time." He then adds that it puts him in mind of the Feralia, and that if Ovid had continued his Fasti to this month it is probable we should have found some mention of it,-a very sage conclusion. GUNPOWDER PLOT-GUY-FAUX DAY- POPE-DAY November 5th.-A Protestant festival, held among the higher classes by a holiday at the public offices, and by a particular "Form of prayer with thanksgiving for the happy deliverance of King James I. and the three estates of England from the most traitorous and bloody intended massacre by gunpowder; and also for the happy arrival of his late Majesty (King William III.) on this day for the deliverance of our church and nation." Among the populace, or rather among their children, it is celebrated by the carrying about of a stuffed straw figure, representative of Guy Fawkes, the head and front of the intended blowing up of both Lords and Commons. This grotesque image is sometimes decorated with a mitre, at others with a cocked hat, and more recently with a striped paper-cap, which, with his hooked nose and chin, gives him no slight resemblance to that celebrated character, Punch. His body is generally invested
* REMAINS OF GENTILISME, MS. folio 110. Bibl. Lansdown. No. 231. Plut. 75. F.
See the BOOK OF COMMON Prayer.
in an old ragged coat, and he is fastened in an armed chair, in which state he is paraded along the streets from morning 'till night, attended by a troop of idle boys, who from time to time stop before any house where there appears a chance of collecting stray half-pence, beating the ground with their staves, and singing the following commemorative rhymes:
Should ever be forgot;
A stick and a stake
God save the king.
A stick and a stump
For Guy Fawkes' rump;
God save the king.
A furious shouting and clatter of sticks follow the conclusion, and this ceremony is repeated 'till evening, when the various representatives of Guy Fawkes are committed to bon-fires, previously collected for the purpose.
LORD MAYOR'S DAY; November 9th.-The office of chief magistrate of London was held for life 'till about 1214, nor was it 'till more than a hundred years afterwards that the title of Lord was given to the mayor. This arose in the time of Richard II. on occasion of Walworth, the mayor of the day, basely murdering Wat Tyler in Smithfield.
In olden times the swearing in of the Lord Mayor and the accompanying show used to take place on the
29th of October, but on the alteration in the style these ceremonies were removed to the day on which we now find them. The origin of them may be traced, not perhaps in their minute details, but in their general outlines, to our Flemish neighbours, who at a very early period had their grossen Ommeganck, that is their grand procession of the guilds or companies of tradesmen. Most of the elements of our early Lord Mayor's shows may be found in these Ommegancks, and more particularly the giants, who indeed once formed a principal figure in all pageants, and who, though they have long since departed from the scene with us, may yet be found in the shows of the more simple-minded Flemings. When Napoleon paid his celebrated visit to Antwerp, a pasteboard giant went forth to welcome the hero of a hundred bloody battles.
That, which in later days has been called the Lord Mayor's Show, was but a degenerate copy of the old Pageant or Triumph, which assumed a variety of forms at different times, blending paganism, christianity and chivalry in marvellous confusion. This however was not always the case, for at one period it became the fashion for the city to employ dramatists of note upon these matters; and there are yet extant certain pageants by Decker, Middleton, Webster, and by other, though perhaps inferior writers.
It may by some be thought to militate against my derivation of the custom from the Flemings that these pageants were common on many other occasions, or, to speak more correctly, the word was used not only to signify the shows exhibited to welcome princes, or to celebrate the inauguration of civic magistrates, but it was also applied to the religious representations called Mysteries and Moralities, and even to the booths themselves, or temporary buildings, in which these sights
took place, when they represented, as occasion required, either rocks, woods, palaces, or castles. Thus we are told that on the morning after the affiancing of Henry the Eighth's daughter Margaret, to James of Scotland, "incontinent after the pryses were given," (that is to the jousters of the preceding evening)—“ there was in the hall a goodly pageant, curiously wrought with fenestrellis, having many lights brenning in the same, in manner of a lantron, out of which sorted † divers sorts of morisks."
As regards Lord Mayor's Day, these pageants should only be considered as a part of the solemnities-of the RIDINGS, in fact, as the civic and royal processions were anciently termed, which, though blending with the pageants, may yet be considered as a distinct matter; indeed they are all that now remain to us of the old custom, for the Lord Mayor's Show, or that part which was more particularly derived from the pageants, has long since fallen into neglect, and even the riding has lost from year to year some portion of its puerilities, till at last it is no longer the thing that it used to be. It would be tedious to trace all these changes through the various periods of our history; but a very sufficient idea of the general routine of such ceremonies may be obtained in "A breffe description of the Royall Citie of London, capitale citie of this realme of England, wrytten by me Wyllyam Smythe, citizen and haberdasher of London, 1575."
"The maior of London
* FENESTRELLIS, i.e, windows. SORTED, i.e. came.
MORISKS, i.e. morrice-dancers. The above extract is from LELAND'S COLLECTANEA DE REBUS ANGLICANIS, vol. iv. p. 263. 8vo. Oxford, 1770.