"THE FURRY "--HELSTONE
THIS ancient custom, which consists in dancing through the streets of the town, and entering the houses of rich and poor alike, is thus well described -
"On the 8th of May, at Heistone, in Cornwall, is held what is called 'the Furry.' The word is supposed by Mr Polwhele to have been derived from the old Cornish word fir, a fair or jubilee. The morning is ushered in by the music of drums and kettles, and other accompaniments of a song, a great part of which is inserted in Mr Polwhele's history, where this circumstance is noticed. So strict is the observance of this day as a general holiday, that should any person be found at work, he is instantly seized, set astride on a pole, and hurried on men's shoulders to the river, where he is sentenced to leap over a wide place, which he, of course, fails in attempting, and leaps into the water. A small contribution towards the good cheer of the day easily compounds for the leap. About nine o'clock the revellers appear before the grammar school, and demand a holiday for the schoolboys, after which they collect contributions from houses. They then fade into the country (fade being an old English word for go), and, about the middle of the day, return with flowers and oak-branches in their hats and caps. From this time they dance hand in hand through the streets, to the sound of the fiddle, playing a particular tune, running into every house they pass without opposition. In the afternoon a select party of the ladies and gentlemen make a progress through the street, and very late in the evening repair to the ball-room. A stranger visiting the town on the eighth of May would really think the people mad, so apparently wild and thoughtless is the merriment of the day. There is no doubt of 'the Furry' originating from the 'Floralia,' anciently observed by the Romans on the fourth of the calends of May."--Every-Day Book.