From "Making Light" comes this advice compiled by Jim Macdonald. Excerpts:
Things I’ve learned from British folk ballads
Don’t ignore warnings. If someone tells you to beware of Long Lankin, friggin’ beware of him. If someone tells you not to go by Carterhaugh, stay away. Same goes for your mother asking you not to go out hunting on a particular day. Portents about weather, particularly when delivered by an old sailor who is not currently chatting up a country maid, are always worth heeding.
If someone says that he’s planning to kill you, believe him.
If someone says he’s going to die, believe him.
Avoid navigable waterways. Don’t let yourself be talked into going down by the wild rippling water, the wan water, the salt sea shore, the strand, the lowlands low, the Burning Thames, and any area where the grass grows green on the banks of some pool. Cliffs overlooking navigable waterways aren’t safe either.
Avoid situations where the obvious rhyme-word is "maidenhead."
If you are an unmarried lady and have sex, you will get pregnant. No good will come of it.
Going to sea to avoid marrying your sweetie is an option, but if she hangs herself after your departure (and it’s even money that she’s going to) her Doleful Ghost will arrive on board your ship and the last three stanzas of your life will purely suck.
New York Girls, like Liverpool Judies, like the ladies of Limehouse, Yarmouth, Portsmouth, Gosport, and/or Baltimore, know how to show sailors a good time, if by "good time" you mean losing all your money, your clothes, and your dignity. Note: All of these places are near navigable waterways. In practical terms this means that if you’re a sailor you’re screwed (and so are any young ladies you happen to meet). See also: Great Pox; Doleful Ghost.
Sharing a boyfriend with your sister is a bad plan.
Professions to be particularly wary of: clerks, salty sailors, serving maids, blacksmiths, highwaymen, gamblers, rank robbers, stonemasons, soldiers, tinkers, and millers. Anyone described as "jolly," "bold," or "saucy." Supernatural creatures are best avoided. If they can’t be avoided, they should be addressed respectfully. If a supernatural creature sets you a task you’re well and truly screwed.
If you are a young lady and a soldier promises to "marry you in the morn," it means he’s already married. And has kids. And he’s not going to marry you anyway. Even if you’re pregnant. Which you will be.
You are justified in cherishing the direst suspicions of a suddenly and unexpectedly returned significant other who mentions a long journey, a far shore, or a narrow bed, or who’s oddly skittish about the imminent arrival of cockcrow.
If you are a young lady and you meet a young man who says his name is "Ramble Away," don’t be surprised if, by the time you know you’re pregnant, it turns out he’s moved and left no forwarding address.
A fellow who’s a massively accomplished flirt hasn’t been spending his time sitting around waiting for his One True Love to come along. Furthermore, odds are poor that you’ll turn out to be his One True Love who will reform him.
If you arrange an assignation with your new sweetie, a little foot page will be listening in and will carry the news to exactly the last person you’d want to hear the story.
If your girlfriend insists that you go back to sleep after some odd sound woke you, it’s time to dive out the window and run for the hills right then.
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