Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
A Penny for the Guy?
Did you know Guy Fawkes is sometimes toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions?”
On this day, the 5th of November in 1605 Guy Fawkes entered the Houses of Parliament to blow it up to restore Catholic rule to the British Isles. He was unsuccessful, caught before he could set off the barrels of gunpowder secreted under Parliament by his co-conspirators .
The Remember, Remember poem is sometimes referred to as ‘Please to remember the fifth of November’ here it is in full below.
The Fifth of November
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!
The Poem serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten. In my home country England the 5th of November is still commemorated each year with fireworks and bonfires culminating with the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes (the guy). The ‘guys’ are made by children by filling old clothes with crumpled newspapers to look like a man. Tradition allows British children to display their ‘guys’ to passers-by and asking for ” A penny for the guy”.
Isn’t it V?
His image is more recognizable nowadays as V from V for Vendetta… The Anarchist who argued people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people. And brought down a fictional fascist British Government in the Alan Moore penned book about the concepts of liberty. His ‘Governments should be afraid of its people’ speech is below.
“Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologise for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine—the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition.
I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.
There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen?
Who’s to blame?
Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be?
War, terror, disease.
There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
Last night, I sought to end that silence.
Last night, I destroyed the Old Bailey to remind this country of what it has forgotten.
More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory.
His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words—they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.”
However Guy Fawkes is remembered I urge you all to have a safe Bonfire night….
Art note – The Cuddly V was finished in watercolor pencils and charcoal pencil.