MOTHER BUNCH'S CLOSET
NEWLY BROKE OPEN;
RARE SECRETS OF NATURE AND ART,
TRIED AND EXPERIENCED
BY LEARNED PHILOSOPHERS,
And recommended to all ingenious young men and maids,
teaching them, in a natural way, how to get good wives
Approved by several that have made trial of them; it being
the product of forty-nine years' study.
By our loving Friend Poor Tom, for the King, a lover of
Mirth, but a hater of Treason.
IN TWO PARTS.
Reading over many ancient Histories, it was my chance to
meet with this story of an old woman who lived in the west,
who took delight in studying her fortune. When she found
herself full twenty years old, she thought her luck worse
than some who were married at fifteen or sixteen, which
much troubled her mind; but to prevent all doubts she resolved
to try a story she had often heard her mother talk of,
and, finding it true, she resolved to teach other maidens.
On a time, this old woman having newly buried her
husband, was taking a walk in the fields, for the benefit of
the air, sometimes thinking of the loss of her husbands, for
she had had three, yet had a great desire for the fourth. So
it happened, as she was walking alone, she espied a young
maiden by the meadow-side. "Good morrow, maid," said
the old woman, "how do you do? are not you well?"
"Yes, mother, I am very well, but somewhat troubled in
mind." "What is it troubles you so much? If I can, I will
willingly relieve you, therefore be not ashamed to tell the
truth. Is it anything of great concern?" "Indeed, mother,
seeing you urge me so much, I will tell you the truth. We
are three sisters, the youngest was married about a year ago,
the middlemost last week, and I am the eldest, and no man
heeds me." "Well, daughter, if this be all, I believe I can
assist thee, for when I was young I was in the same condition,
and with reading some histories, found out the art to
know him that should be my husband, which, if you will
keep my counsel, I am ready to teach thee." "I will, truly,
and if you will do so much for me, I shall think myself
much obliged to you; and, if my fortune proves right, I will
make you amends."
"Why, then, I will tell you, in the first place, you must
observe St. Agnes' day, which is the 21st of January, and on
that day let no man speak to thee, and at night, when
thou liest down lay thy right hand under thy head, and say
these words, 'Now the God of hope let me dream of my love';
then go to sleep as soon as possible, and you shall be sure to
dream of him who will be your husband, and see him stand
before you, and may take notice of him and his complexion;
and if he offer to salute thee honourably, do not deny him,
but show him as much favour as thou canst; but if he offers
to be uncivil, be sure to send him away. And now, daughter,
the counsel I have given you, be sure to tell nobody. So,
fare you well, till I see you again."
"I give you thanks for your advice; but one thing more
I have to say, What is your name? and where do you live?"
"I will tell you, daughter; my name is Mother Bunch, and I
live at a place called Bonadventure, where, if you come, I
will make you welcome."
Now Mother Bunch having departed from the maid, she
met another pretty girl. "Good morrow, Mother Bunch."
"Good morrow, pretty maid, whither are you going this
morning? Methinks you are very fine to-day." "Fine!
Mother Bunch, you do not think so." "Nay, I cannot discommend
you; for such a brisk maid as you should go handsome,
or you will never get a sweetheart, though you think
the time long." "No, no, mother, I am too young." "How
old are you?" "I am eighteen." "Eighteen! then I know
thou thinkest thou hast stayed long enough, and wouldest
as willingly have a husband as another." "Aye, Mother
Bunch, but good husbands are hard to find, especially for
me, who have no skill in choosing, or else it may be I would
be glad of a good husband." "Be sure to take my advice:
be wise in choosing, that is to say, take no one that has got
a red head, for be sure he loveth a smock so well that he
will scarce let his wife have a good one to her back; nor of
yellow hair, as he is inclinable to be jealous; nor a black
man, for he is dogged." "Aye, but mother, if I must not
have yellow, black, nor red, what colour must I take?"
"Why, daughter, I tell you, if he is jealous, you will be
annoyed by his speeches, for how can a young woman forbear
when she is always provoked? And be sure, if he is
jealous of thee thou mayest well be so of him; for evil people
and thieves think ill of each other. But hold a little, one
thing more I have to say to you, and that is, to take notice
of thy sweethearts when they come a-wooing to thee, I mean
of their civil behaviour; for if they swear, vow, and make
great protestations, then have a care of thyself, for many
words breed dissimulation; therefore have a care of such:
but if a man come to thee that is sober and civil behaved,
there are hopes of his proving a good man." "Now, mother,
I will take my leave of you, giving you many thanks for
your good advice; and so, farewell, till I see you again, and
I intend to take this counsel."
Another time Mother Bunch was in a little meadow,
not far from her house, on the 30th of April, before sunrising.
A handsome maid, seeing her alone, came to her, and
said, "Mother Bunch, good morrow, how do you do? Pray,
what makes you abroad so early in the morning? You
seem to be in a deep study." "Daughter, you say very
true; I am studying who shall be my next husband, and if
thou wilt but please to stay a little while, thou shalt see a
pretty art, which thou never saw before, to teach you how
to know your sweetheart." "This is a pretty art indeed,
and I should be glad to know it."
"Hark! hark! daughter, is not yonder the cuckoo singing?"
"Yes, yes, and I have not heard her sing this year
before now." "Then, daughter, sit down by me, but hold,
Are you fasting?" "Yes." "But has no man kissed you?"
"No." Then sit thee down by me. "I think the cuckoo is
mad, what a life she leads; I think she is a witch; but no
matter: put off thy right shoe and stocking, and let me look
between thy great toe and the next: Now, daughter, see,
this hair is a long one; look well at it, and tell me what
colour it is." "I think it is really yellow." "The same
colour will thy husband's hair be." "But, Mother Bunch, I
do not matter the colour so much as the condition." "I
will tell you his condition: he may prove surly enough,
and perhaps make you do as you did not imagine: you
must give him good words, and give him good for evil."
"Mother Bunch, you make me smile, you talk so merrily."
"Come, daughter, it is no great matter; merry talk does no
harm, but drives the time away. But hark! daughter, I
have had three husbands myself, and I think to have
another; and do you think I am so mad to tell him all I
do? Then, my daughter, I have another way to tell you
who must be your husband; I have proved it true; and it
is the best time of the year to try it, therefore, observe what
I say: Take a St. Thomas' onion, pare it, and lay it on a
clean handkerchief under your pillow; and as you lie down,
say these words—
Good St. Thomas, do me right,
And bring my love in dreams this night,
That I may view him in the face.
Then go to sleep as soon as you can, and in your first
sleep you shall dream of him who is to be your husband.
This I have tried, and it has proved true. Yet I have another
pretty way for a maid to know her sweetheart, which is as
follows: Take a summer apple of the best fruit, stick pins
close into the apple, to the head, and as you stick them take
notice which of them is the middlemost, and give it what
name you fancy; put it into thy left hand glove, and lay it
under thy pillow on Saturday night; after thou gettest into
bed, then clap thy hands together, and say these words—
If thou be he that must have me
To be thy wedded bride,
Make no delay, but come away,
In dream to my bedside.
And in thy sleep thou shalt see him, and be not afraid,
for it is a sign he will prove a good husband. And this is a
good way for a young man to know his sweetheart, giving
the middlemost pin the name he fancies best, putting the
apple in his right hand glove, and laying it under his pillow
when he is in bed, saying—
If thou be she that must have me
In wedlock for to join,
Make no delay, but come away
So I may dream of mine.
"And that night he may see her, and if she come it is
a sign she will prove a good wife. And now, daughter,
the time passes away, and I must be gone, and so bid you
farewell." "Mother Bunch, I give you many thanks for
your good counsel, and intend to take your advice."
Upon a time, Mother Bunch, being at a wedding, where
young men and maids were met, who had a mind for some
discourse with her, one young man said, "Mother Bunch, we
know you are a woman that has a judgment in many things,
I pray, tell my fortune." "I cannot tell fortunes," said she,
"but thou blinkest too much with one eye to be true to
one woman." "Aye, but, mother," says another, "what
think you of me?" "Thou mayest come to marry a
lady, if thou canst but lay a great wager with her, three
to one; and if she wagers with thee, thou wilt be very
likely to win, for thou hast mettle in thee; but have a care
she win not the odds, if she does thou art clean gone. So
Now Mother Bunch took her leave; and going home, she
met a maid going to a wedding. "How do you do, mother?"
"Thank you, daughter, whither are you going?" "To the
wedding, I believe; but hark you, mother, will you sit down
a little, I have something to say to you." "What is it,
daughter?" "When shall I be married?" "Would you
fain be married?" "Yes, mother, if I could get a good
husband." "Then, daughter, I will tell you the best I can,
if you will take my advice. In the month of January are
many dangerous days for thee to take notice of; these are
the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth: there are a great
many more; but if thou marriest on these days, thy husband
will cuckold thee, or thou wilt make him one, or else you
will soon be parted by one means or other; but for all
there be so many bad days in this month I can tell you of
one day which is lucky, and many young men and maids
have a deal of heart's ease on that day, or the day after, as I
shall let you understand; it is the 21st, called St. Agnes'
day. This St. Agnes has a great favour for young men and
maids, and will bring their sweethearts, if they follow my
rules: Upon this day you must be sure to keep a fast, and
neither eat nor drink all that day, nor at night; neither
let man, woman, nor child kiss thee on that day; and thou
must be sure, when thou goest to bed, to say—
Now, St. Agnes, play thy part,
And send to me my own sweetheart;
And show me such a happy bliss,
This night to dream of a sweet kiss.
And be sure to fall asleep as soon as you can, and before
you awake out of your first sleep, you shall see him come
before you, and shall perceive by his habit what tradesman
he is; and be sure thou declare not thy dream unto any one
in ten days, and by that time thou mayest see thy dream
come to pass. All this I have proved three times; for I
have had three husbands, and they all proved tradesmen.
The first was a straw joiner, the second a louse-trap maker,
and the third a gentle craft, and he came to me with his awl
in his hand, and so I waked out of my dream; but I thought
the time long till he came again; as all maids do that desire
to be married. I know some maids would wait in order to
have a husband with the best conditions, and endowed with
the best qualifications; nay they would have impossibilities:
but I am afraid they will make good the old proverb, that
'If you will not when you may,
When you would you shall have nay.'
Therefore, take my advice, if a young man comes to you
of a civil carriage, and you think you can love him, be not
scornful to him, but give him a civil encouragement, according
to his behaviour.
And as to young men, my advice is, they be wary in
their choice, since there is as much danger in choosing of a
wife as a husband: wherefore, all young men, take my
advice: choose not one with a long nose, a scolding brow,
and thin lips, for in such there is great danger. He who is
tied to a scold is tied to sorrow; choose not one who is
counted a slut, if she be a slut, she is idle also, and these two
companions will bring thee to poverty; nay, besides this, the
old saying is, 'A slut will poison the gout, and if you can't
eat with her, you won't sleep with her.'
But this is the best way of choosing a wife: Take one
for love, not for riches which fly away, for true love never
varies; and where that is, the blessing of God is. If you
desire to live a long life, be not overfond of riches, but
choose a civil handsome maid, who is not given to pride:
such a maid may make a fine wife. But she that brings a
handsome fortune, will be always throwing it in your teeth,
which often occasions great disturbances; therefore let this
suffice for those who desire to get good wives; and take
notice of what I have already said, and you may fare the
And as for young maids, this is my advice, if they will
not try St. Agnes, let them be sure to choose a clever, honest
man, who is able to support them in comfort.
On Michaelmas Day, Mother Bunch, sitting on the bank of
a river, joining to a neighbouring grove, beheld the late
flourishing branches in their decay, whose sapless leaves
were falling to the earth, from which she began seriously to
consider her own mortality; and since time had hurried on
the winter of her age, and covered her aged head with
snowy locks, she might expect, ere long, to fall, like the enfeebled
leaves. Therefore, she resolved, as she had been a
kind friend to young men and maids, to give a further
testimony of her regard before she left this world. For as
her painful study and strict observation had made a large
improvement in her stock of knowledge she would not
have it buried in the grave with her, but leave it to posterity
for the benefit of young men and maids, whereby they
might learn to understand their good and bad fortunes, and
by the directions of this book be thoroughly furnished with
many secret rarities never before published to the world.
Accordingly, the next day she wrote letters of invitation
to the young men and maids to repair to her house on St.
Luke's Day. The maids she appointed to meet in the morning,
to be first instructed, and that for two reasons. First,
as she herself was a woman, she would teach them first, lest
the bachelors should be too hard for them before they had
learned their lessons. Secondly, that young women should
be first served in this, it being Horn Fair Day, many of the
bachelors would be employed in the morning, in handing
old citizens' young wives to the fair; and in the afternoon
they might be at liberty. This was the determination of
old Mother Bunch.
Now against the time appointed, old Mother Bunch
decked up her house, neat and fine, and, getting up early in
the morning, placed herself in the closet, where her treasure
Now the first that entered the room was one Margery
Loveman, a maltster's maid, who, with a low curtsey, said,
"Good morrow, Mother Bunch, I am come to partake of
your bounty; for I hear you have a second time opened your
Golden Closet of Curiosities for the benefit of young lovers."
"Yes, daughter," quoth Mother Bunch, "so I have, and thou
shalt partake of the same. Here is infallible rules and directions
to guide you in all manner of love intrigues; also, how
to know what sort of man you shall marry, and whither
he will prove loving or not."
"Dear mother, these are things I fain would know; for,
believe me, I have many sweethearts, and I willingly choose
the best, lest I should marry in haste and repent at leisure.
'Tis true, I have near a hundred and fifty pounds to my
portion, the great noise of which has brought many sweethearts,
for I have no less than five or six at this time; and,
mother, I would fain know which of them comes for love of
me, and which of them for money." "Daughter," quoth
Mother Bunch, "here is an experiment, if you will but try,
it will make a clear discovery of the reality of their love.
Let a report be spread that thou hast lately been robbed of
all that thou hast, both money and apparel. Now, if after
this, there is one of them that continues his love as before,
you may be very certain that he is faithful; but, be sure
that you keep this counsel to yourself, that the secret be not
discovered." "I will take care of that, dear mother," quoth
Margery, "and I heartily thank you for this kind and seasonable
"Good morrow, daughter," she replied,
"Young men are false, and must be tried."
She was no sooner gone, but in comes Mrs. Susan, a young
sempstress from Salisbury, with sorrowful lamentation,
weeping and wringing her hands. "How now!" quoth
good Mother Bunch; "what is the matter with you,
daughter, that you go on at this rate?" "Alas! Mother
Bunch," quoth Susan, "my—my—my—my—my—my!"
"What my?" said Mother Bunch. Quoth sobbing Susan,
"My sorrows are more than I am able to bear; for, mother,
dear Frank the fiddler, my old love, and I are fallen out, and
he swears he will not have me." "Come, daughter," quoth
Mother Bunch, "be of good comfort, for I will put thee in an
effectual way to find whither Frank the fiddler be really
angry with thee or not; and if he be, I will teach thee infallibly
how to obtain his favour again. 'She that is afraid
of every grass, must not think to go in a meadow.' Let
your angry love but alone for a season, and he will soon
come to himself again; for I know that love is a puny darling,
and wants very frequently to be humoured. Therefore,
let him alone, in time he will forget his anger, and return to
thee again, if he has any principle, good nature, or loyal
love in him; and if not, you had better be without him than
during your whole life to be tied to so sour an apple tree.
Remember the old proverb, 'Set thy stool in the sun; if a
knave goes, an honest man may come.' I hope thou hast
not been playing the wanton wagtail with him, hast thou?"
"No, indeed, dear Mother Bunch; but yet, I must needs
confess that he fain would have played a lesson on my lute
last market day, but I would not let him; and that was the
cause of our falling out." "Sayest thou so, daughter? Why,
then, I will tell thee, that since he found thou withstood his
temptations, with so much resolution, take my word for it
he will never forget thee." "Well, dear mother," quoth
young Susan, "your words have been comfortable to me;
and when I find the good effects, I will return and give you
an account of it. And so farewell, dear mother, for the
"Right happy, daughter, may you be,
In guarding your true purity."
The next that entered the room was Eliza, the miller's
maid, who, after making a very low curtsey, and giving
Mother Bunch the time of the day, desiring to know
for what reason she sent her that letter? "Why," says the
old woman, "to the end that I might reveal to you some
secrets relating to love, which I have never discovered
to the world." "But, dear Mother Bunch," quoth
Margery, "I am a mere stranger to love, for I
never in my life knew what it meant." "That may
be," quoth Mother Bunch; "yet you know not how
soon you may receive the arrows of Cupid, then you
would be glad of some of my advice, for I know by myself,
that the best woman of you all, at one time or other, has a
desire to know what it is to be married." Quoth Margery,
"You talk merrily, Mother Bunch." "Well, daughter,"
quoth Mother Bunch, "you may term it as you please;
but I will appeal to your own conscience whether or no you
would be glad, with all your heart, of a kind and loving
"Dear Mother," quoth Margery, "you come quite close to
the matter; and if I may be so free as to speak my own
mind, I could willingly have such a one; for though
house-keeping is said to be very chargeable often, yet, on the
other hand, a married state is honourable." "Thou sayest
well, daughter," quoth Mother Bunch, "and if thou hast a
mind to see the man whom thou shalt marry, then follow
strictly my directions, and you shall not fail of your desire.
Let me see—this is St. Luke's Day, which I have found by
long study to be of greater use to that purpose than that of
the celebrated St. Agnes, which I formerly recommended
you to; and the ingredients now to be used are of a quite
different and finer quality, and far more excellent for performing
Now I would have you take some marigold flowers, a
large sprig of sweet marjoram, a sprig of fresh thyme, and a
small quantity of wormwood; dry these together before the
fire, till you may rub them to a powder; then sift the same
through a piece of fine lawn. This being done, take a small
quantity of virgin honey, and right white wine vinegar, and
simmer them together in a new earthen porringer, over a
mild and gentle fire; all which being done, anoint your
forehead and cheeks, and lips, likewise, with the same, just
the moment you are lying down in your bed; always remembering
to repeat these words three times—
St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,
And let me now my true love see.
"This said, hasten to sleep with all speed; then in the
soft slumber of your night's repose the very man you are to
marry shall appear before you walking to and fro near to
your bedside, very plain and visible to be seen: you shall
perfectly behold the colour of his hair, his visage, stature,
and deportment. And if he be one that will prove faithful,
he will approach you with a smile, and offer to salute you;
which, when he does, do not seem to be overfond or peevishly
froward, but receive the same with a becoming mild and
modest smile. Now, if he be one that will, after marriage,
forsake his house to wander after strange women, then will
he offer to be rude and uncivil with thee, at which time
thou shalt lift up thy hand to smite him; so doing, it will
go well with thee, and thy guardian angel will keep thee
ever safe. Daughter, these are rarities which I never before
divulged. Do but put this in execution, and I am certain
it will answer the desired effect." "I must needs thank you
for your love," quoth Margery; "and so farewell, Mother
Bunch." "Good-bye, daughter," she replied.
"Let joy and pleasure crown your days,
And a kind man your fortune raise."
The next that appeared was Kate, the cloth-worker's
daughter; then Doll, the dairymaid; Joan, Bridget, Nancy,
and Phillis, in number about forty together, each of them
crying out with a loud voice, "Dear Mother Bunch, remember
me." "O remember me," quoth another; and so did
they all, till they made the poor old woman's ears deaf with
the clamorous noise. "My dear daughters," quoth Mother
Bunch, "sit you all down and be quiet, for there is never a
one amongst you but will partake of my bounty. Daughters,
I will sit in the midst of you, where I shall read over a very
interesting lecture. My real motive is to give you a full
account of some rare and excellent curiosities, in my Golden
Closet, newly broke open; declaring that it is my opinion
that those things which are profitable to one maid may not be
prejudicial, in any respect, to another, and this I shall begin.
First, if any of you here desire to know the name of the
man whom you shall marry, let her seek in the summer time
for a green peasecod, in which there are nine pease; when
you have done this, either write, or cause to be written, on a
slip of paper, these words—
Come in, my dear,
And never fear.
Writing which, you must carefully close within the aforesaid
peasecod, and lay the same under the threshold of the
door, and then observe the next man that comes into the
house; for you shall certainly be married to one of the same
Secondly, she that desires to be satisfied whether she
shall get the man desired or no, let her take two lemon-peels
in the morning, and wear them all the day under
her arm-pit, then at night let her not fail to take them
and rub the four posts of the bed with the same; which
being done, in your first sleep, he will seem to come and
present you with a couple of choice lemons, if not, there is
Thirdly, she that is desirous to know what manner of
fortune she shall marry, whether a gentleman, a tradesman,
or a traveller, the experiment is thus: Take a walnut, a
hazel nut, and a nutmeg; crack the two nuts, and take off the
scurf; peel them clear from the kernels, and grate part of the
nutmeg to them; this being done, bruise the kernels of the
nuts, and mix them with butter and sugar, making them up
into peels, which are to be taken just when you are lying
down in your bed. Then if your fortune be to marry a
gentleman, your sleep will be filled with fine golden dreams,
variety of sweet music, and many running footmen; if a
tradesman, great noise and tumults; if a traveller (who is a
seaman), then frightful visions of lightning and roaring
thunder will disturb your sleep. This has been often tried,
and as often approved.
Fourthly, St. Agnes' Day I have not wholly blotted out of
my book; no, but I have found a more exact way of trial
than before: You shall not need to abstain from kisses, nor
be forced to keep a fast from a glance of your love in the
night. If you can rise to be at the parish church door
punctually between the hours of twelve and one in the
morning, and then and there put only the fore-finger of
your right hand into the key-hole of the said door, repeating
the following words, three times over—
O sweet St. Agnes, now draw near
With my true love, let him appear.
Then he will straight approach to you with a cheerful
and smiling countenance. This is a new and infallible way
of making the trial.
Fifthly, my dear daughters, you all know the thirteenth
day of February is Valentine's Day, at which time the fowls
of the air couple together, and not only so, but the young
men and maidens are for choosing mates at the same time.
Now, that you may speed to your full satisfaction, follow
this approved direction: Take five bay leaves, lay one under
every corner of your pillow, and the fifth under the middle,
then laying yourself down to rest, repeat the following
words in the four lines, seven times over—
Some guardian angel let me have
What I most earnestly do crave,
A valentine endowed with love,
Which will both kind and constant prove.
"Then to your great content, you shall either have the
valentine of him you desire, or, at least, one much more
"Sixthly, the experiment of the midsummer smock, found
in a better manner than before, by my painful study in
philosophy. And now, daughters," quoth she, "take particular
notice, for it is thus: Let seven of you together, on a
midsummer's eve, exactly at the sun's setting, go silently
into some garden, and gather each of you a sprig of red
sage, then return to some private room, prepared particularly
for that purpose, with a stool placed in the middle,
each one of you having a clean smock, turned the wrong
side outwards, hanging upon a line across the room, then let
every one lay her sprig of red sage on a clean plate of rosewater
set on a stool; which done, place yourselves in a row,
where continue till twelve or one o'clock, saying nothing,
whatever you see, for after midnight, each one's sweetheart
or husband, that shall be, will take each maid's sprig out of
the rosewater, and sprinkle his love's smock, and those who
are so unfortunate as never to be married, their sprigs shall
not be moved; and in consequence hereof many sobs and
heavy sighs will be heard. This has been very often tried
in our own country, and never failed of the desired effect.
These things I have found out of late,
To make young lovers fortunate.
"And now, my dear daughters, I have but a few more
words to say at this time, and they are by way of caution:
In the twelve months I find above one and thirty very unfortunate
days; and therefore, as you regard the future
happiness of your lives, take care that you do not enter into
wedlock upon those days. Now, for your better instruction,
I'll tell you which they be.
"In January there are four; the 7th, 16th, 17th, and 18th.
February hath two; the 5th and 10th.
March hath three; the 9th, 10th, and 21st.
April hath two; the 6th and 7th.
May hath two; the 4th and 13th.
June hath three; the 7th, 9th, and 10th.
July hath two; the 9th and 17th.
August hath two; the 11th and 15th.
September hath three; the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
October hath three; the 4th, 14th, and 15th.
November hath two; the 5th and 24th.
December hath three; the 6th, 7th, and 9th.
Observe my rules for all these days,
And then you will your fortune raise."
This said, old Mother Bunch presented them with a cup
of her fine cordial water, and so dismissed them; and the
young damsels, with rapturous hearts, returned her their
After Mother Bunch had done dinner, the young men
came, to wit, Tom the miller, Ralph the thatcher, and Robin
the ploughman, with a great number of other trades and
callings, all whom Mother Bunch invited to sit down that
she might deliver her wholesome counsels to them.
And first she begins with Tom the miller, saying, "Ah,
Tom! thou art a sad wild young fellow; there is not a maid
that can come to the mill but thou will be fooling with them,
but take my word for it, if you do not leave off in time, you
will certainly spoil all your fortune. What woman do you
think, having a portion, will have such a one? She may
justly conclude that you will still run a catterwauling after
young wenches, and leave her to sigh and weep for want of
domestic happiness—you know what I mean, Tom."
"Yes, yes, mother," quoth Tom, "but sure you do not
take me for such a one." "Yes, Tom, I do, and am seldom
mistaken. It is you millers that fill the country so full of
cracked-headed maidens, that when an honest husband comes
to marry he finds the hearts already stolen away. But
farewell, I'll have no more to say to such a fellow as you."
Then turning to Ralph the thatcher, she said, "I find you
are very desirous of a wife, and your ambition is such that
she must be rich, young, and beautiful: cannot you content
yourself with honest Joan, to whom you gave promise of
marriage? And now I find you have a mind to leave her,
which if you do, and obtain such a one as you desire, I can
tell you what will follow. She won't stand picking of straws
with you, her fair face will find many friends in a corner,
and you may chance to be a cuckold, and indeed but justly
served in your kind; and, therefore, I advise you to return
to your old love, for she is a very honest girl, and therefore
far more fit for you than such a gay butterfly as you have
Then she stretched forth her hand to Robin the ploughman,
saying, "Thou art an honest fellow, and good fortune
will always attend thee. I mean not bags of gold nor heaps
of silver; but thou shalt have a careful and industrious wife,
one that will ever be willing and ready to labour, a true and
faithful yoke-mate, and one that will be a cheerful partner
in thy weal and woe, to comfort and support thee under the
greatest and most severe trials. For, as the poet has it—
That burden may be borne
By two with care,
Which is perhaps too much
For one to bear.
"Honest Robin, this is thy happy fortune, and as thou art
a downright honest fellow, I am glad to find it so."
Thus Mother Bunch went round the room,
And told them what would be their doom,
If they her daughters did betray,
And steal their maiden hearts away,
Each would be punished with a bride,
By whom he should be hornify'd;
But if they were right honest men,
Each of them should have fortune then.
This said, she did her blessing give,
In love and happiness to live;
Which when they did the same receive,
Of Mother Bunch they took their leave,
Declaring she had told them more,
Than e'er they understood before.
Now for these poor young creatures that have pined
themselves to death, and have no cure, the worst of
pretenders to physiognomy might prescribe them a remedy,
and all those of what constitution soever that have hoped
houses of their own, I will show you how you shall see the
person that is to give you one, collected from Trismegistus
and Cornelius Agrippa.
On midsummer Eve three or four of you must dip your
dresses in fair water, then turn them wrong side outwards,
and hang them on chairs before the fire, and lay some salt
in another chair, and speak not a word. In a short time
the likeness of him you are to marry will come and turn your
dresses, and drink to you; but if there be any of you will
never marry, they will hear a bell, but not the rest.
Another way, quickly tried.
Take hemp-seed, and go into what place you will by yourself,
carry the seed in your apron, and with your right hand
throw it over your shoulder saying,
Hemp-seed I sow, hemp-seed I sow,
And he that must be my true love,
Come after me and mow.
And at the ninth time expect to see the figure of him you
are to wed, or else hear a bell as before.
Yet though you hear the sad and dismal bell
It is your own fault if you hear the horrid knell.
You that dare venture into a churchyard, just as it strikes
twelve at night, take a naked sword in your hand, and go
nine times about the church, saying,
Here's the sword, but where's the scabbard?
Which continue the whole time you go round; and the
ninth time the person you are to marry will meet you with
a scabbard and so kiss you: if not, a bell as before.
Another, called the Dutch Cake.
Three, four, or more of you must make a cake of flour and
salt (no matter of what flour), and some of each of your own
baking; make your cake broad, and each of you set the two
first letters of your name with a pin, but leave such a distance
that it may be cut; then set it before the fire, but
speak not one word. Turn it each of you once; and the
person to be your husband will cut out your name; then
the next, unto the last.
The first change of the new moon on the New Year, the
first time you see it, hold your hands across, saying this
New moon, new moon, I pray thee,
Tell me this night who my true love will be.
Then go to sleep without speaking a word, and you will certainly
dream of the person you shall marry.
Another way experienced often.
Young men and maids may take some rosemary flowers,
bay leaves, a little thyme, sweet marjoram, and southern-wood;
make these into powder, and with barley flour make
a cake, but do not bake it. Lay this under your head any
Friday night; and if you dream of music, you will wed
those you desire in a short time; if of the sea or ships, you
will travel first; if of a church, you must be contented to