The Yarrow

: Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales

This plant, in the eastern counties, is termed yarroway, and there is

a curious mode of divination with its serrated leaf, with which you must

tickle the inside of your nose, repeating the following lines. If the

operation causes the nose to bleed, it is a certain omen of success:

Yarroway, yarroway, bear a white blow,

If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.

Another mode of d
vination with this plant caused a dream of a future

husband. An ounce of yarrow, sewed up in flannel, must be placed under

your pillow when you go to bed, and having repeated the following words,

the required dream will be realized:

Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,

Thy true name it is yarrow;

Now who my bosom friend must be,

Pray tell thou me to-morrow.

Boys have a variety of divinations with the kernels of pips of fruit.

They will shoot one with their thumb and forefinger, exclaiming--

Kernel come kernel, hop over my thumb,

And tell me which way my true love will come;

East, West, North, or South,

Kernel, jump into my true love's mouth.

This is taken from Mr. Barnes's Dorset Gl., p. 320, but the author does

not inform us in what way the divination was effected. I remember

throwing apple-pips into the fire, saying--

If you love me, pop and fly,

If you hate me, lay and die!

addressing an imaginary love, or naming some individual whose affection

was desired to be tested.

Girls used to have a method of divination with a "St. Thomas's

onion,"[48] for the purpose of ascertaining their future partners. They

peeled the onion, wrapped it up in a clean handkerchief, and then

placing it under their heads, said the following lines:

[Footnote 48: One of the old cries of London was,

"Buy my rope of onions--white St. Thomas's

onions." They are also mentioned in the "Hog hath

lost his Pearl," i. 1.]

Good St. Thomas, do me right,

And let my true love come to-night,

That I may see him in the face,

And him in my kind arms embrace;

which were considered infallible for procuring a dream of the beloved


To know if your present sweetheart will marry you, let an unmarried

woman take the bladebone of a shoulder of lamb, and borrowing a

penknife, without on any account mentioning the purpose for which it is

required, stick it through the bone when she goes to bed for nine nights

in different places, repeating the following lines each time:

'Tis not this bone I mean to stick,

But my love's heart I mean to prick,

Wishing him neither rest nor sleep,

Until he comes to me to speak.

Accordingly at the end of the nine days, or shortly afterwards, he will

ask for something to put to a wound he will have met with during the

time he was thus charmed. Another method is also employed for the same

object. On a Friday morning, fasting, write on four pieces of paper the

names of three persons you like best, and also the name of Death, fold

them up, wear them in your bosom all day, and at night shake them up in

your left shoe, going to bed backwards; take out one with your left

hand, and the other with your right, throw three of them out of the

shoe, and in the morning whichever name remains in the shoe is that of

your future husband. If Death is left, you will not marry any of them.