The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters

Author: Artemus Ward

1.45. We See Two Witches.

Two female fortune-tellers recently came hither, and spread "small bills" throughout the city. Being slightly anxious, in common with a wide circle of relatives and friends, to know where we were going to, and what was to become of us, we visited both of these eminently respectable witches yesterday and had our fortune told "twict." Physicians sometimes disagree, lawyers invariably do, editors occasionally fall out, and we are pained to say that even witches unfold different tales to one individual. In describing our interviews with these singularly gifted female women, who are actually and positively here in this city, we must speak considerably of "we"—not because we flatter ourselves that we are more interesting than people in general, but because in the present case it is really necessary. In the language of Hamlet’s Pa, "List, O list!"

We went to see "Madame B." first. She has rooms at the Burnett House. The following is a copy of her bill:—



Would respectfully announce to the citizens that she has just
arrived in this city, and designs remaining for a few days only.

The Madame can be consulted on all matters pertaining to life—
either past, present, or future—tracing the line of life from
Infancy to Old Age, particularizing each event, in regard to

Business, Love, Marriage, Courtship, Losses, Law Matters, and
Sickness of Relatives and Friends at a distance.

The Madame will also show her visitors a life-like representation
of their Future Husbands and Wives.


Can also be selected by her, and hundreds who have consulted her
have drawn capital prizes. The Madame will furnish medicine for
all diseases, for grown persons (male or female) and children.

Persons wishing to consult her concerning this mysterious art and
human destiny, particularly with reference to their own individual bearing in relation to a supposed Providence, can be accommodated by


Corner of Prospect and Ontario streets, Cleveland.

The Madame has traveled extensively for the last few years, both in the United States and the West Indies, and the success which has attended her in all places has won for her the reputation of being the most wonderful Astrologist of the present age.

The Madame has a superior faculty for this business, having been born with a Caul on her Face, by virtue of which she can more accurately read the past, present, and future; also enabling her to cure many diseases without using drugs or medicines. The madame advertises nothing but what she can do. Call on her if you would consult the greatest Foreteller of events now living.

Hours of Consultation, from 8 A.M. to 9 o’clock P.M.

We urbanely informed the lady with the "Caul on her Face" that we had called to have our fortune told, and she said, "Hand out your money." This preliminary being settled, Madame B. (who is a tall, sharp-eyed, dark-featured and angular woman, dressed in painfully positive colors, and heavily loaded with gold chain and mammoth jewelry of various kinds) and Jupiter indicated powerful that we were a slim constitution, which came down on to us from our father’s side. Wherein our constitution was not slim, so it came down on to us from our mother’s side.

"Is this so?"

And we said it was.

"Yes," continued the witch, "I know’d ’twas. You can’t deceive Jupiter, me, nor any other planick. You may swim same as Leander did, but you can’t deceive the planicks. Give me your hand! Times ain’t so easy as they has been. So—so—but ’tis temp’ry. ’Twon’t last long. Times will be easy soon. You may be tramped on to onct or twict, but you’ll rekiver. You have talenk, me child. You kin make a Congresser if sich you likes to be. [We said we would be excused, if it was all the same to her.] You kin be a lawyer. [We thanked her, but said we would rather retain our present good moral character.] You kin be a soldier. You have courage enough to go to the Hostrian wars and kill the French. [We informed her that we had already murdered some "English."] You won’t have much money till you’re thirty-three years of old. Then you will have large sums— forty thousand dollars, perhaps. Look out for it! [We promised we would.] You have traveled some, and you will travel more, which will make your travels more extensiver than they has been. You will go to Californy by way of Pike’s Pick. [Same route taken by Horace Greeley.] If nothin happens onto you, you won’t meet with no accidents and will get through pleasant, which you otherwise will not do under all circumstances however, which doth happen to all, both great and small, likewise to the rich as also the poor. Hearken to me! There has been deaths in your family, and there will be more! But Reserve your constitution and you will live to be seventy years of old. Me child, HER hair will be black—black as the Raving’s wing. Likewise black will also be her eyes, and she’ll be as different from which you air as night and day. Look out for the darkish man! He’s yer rival! Beware of the darkish man! [We promised that we’d introduce a funeral into the "darkish man’s" family the moment we encountered him.] Me child, there’s more sunshine than clouds for ye, and send all your friends up here.

"A word before you goes. Expose not yourself. Your eyes is saller, which is on accounts of bile on your systim. Some don’t have bile on to their systims which their eyes is not saller. This bile ascends down on to you from many generations which is in their graves, and peace to their ashes."


We then proceeded directly to Madame Crompton, the other fortuneteller.

Below is her bill:—


The World-Renowned Fortune-Teller and

Madame Crompton begs leave to inform the citizens of Cleveland
and vicinity that she has taken rooms at the


Corner of St Clair and Water Streets,

Where she may be consulted on all matters pertaining to
Past and Future Events.

Also giving Information of Absent friends, whether
Living or Dead.

P.S.—Persons having lost or having property stolen of any kind,
will do well to give her a call, as she will describe the person or
persons with such accuracy as will astonish the most devout critic.

Terms Reasonable.

She has rooms at the Farmers’ Hotel, as stated in the bill above. She was driving an extensive business, and we were forced to wait half an hour or so for a chance to see her. Madame Crompton is of the English persuasion, and has evidently searched many long years in vain for her H. She is small in stature, but considerably inclined to corpulency, and her red round face is continually wreathed in smiles, reminding one of a new tin pan basking in the noonday sun. She took a greasy pack of common playing cards, and requested us to "cut them in three," which we did. She spread them out before her on the table, and said:—

"Sir to you which I speaks. You ’av been terrible crossed in love, and your ’art ’as been much panged. But you’ll get over it and marry a light complected gale with rayther reddish ’air. Before some time you’ll have a legercy fall down on to you, mostly in solick Jold. There may be a lawsuit about it, and you may be sup-prisoned as a witnesses, but you’ll git it—mostly in solick Jold, which you will keep in chists, and you must look out for them. [We said we would keep a skinned optic on "them chists."] You ’as a enemy, and he’s a lightish man. He wants to defraud you out of your ’onesty. He is tellink lies about you now in the ’opes of crushin yourself. [A weak invention of "the opposition."] You never did nothin bad. Your ’art is right. You ’ave a great taste for hosses and like to stay with ’em. Mister to you I sez: Gard aginst the lightish man and all will be well."

The supernatural being then took an oval-shaped chunk of glass (which she called a stone) and requested us to "hang on to it." She looked into it and said:

"If you’re not keerful when you git your money, you’ll lose it, but which otherwise you will not, and fifty cents is as cheap as I kin afford to tell anybody’s fortune, and no great shakes made then."


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Chicago: Artemus Ward, "1.45. We See Two Witches.," The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters, ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed July 23, 2024,

MLA: Ward, Artemus. "1.45. We See Two Witches." The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters, edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 23 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Ward, A, '1.45. We See Two Witches.' in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 1: Essays, Sketches, and Letters, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 July 2024, from