Honest Miller of Gloucestershire (The) by Hannah More

 

THE HONEST MILLER OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE
A TRUE BALLAD
By Hannah More


Of all the callings and the trades
Which in our land abound,
The miller’s is as useful, sure,
As can on earth be found.


The lord or squire of high degree
Is needful to the state,
Because he lets the land he owns
In farms both small and great.


The farmer, he manures the land,
Or else what corn could grow?
The ploughman cuts the furrow deep
Ere he begins to sow.


And though no wealth he has, except
The labor of his hands,
Yet honest industry’s as good
As houses or as lands.


The thresher, he is useful too
To all who like to eat;
Unless he winnowed well the corn,
The chaff would spoil the wheat.


But vain the squire’s and farmer’s care,
And vain the thresher’s toil;
And vain would be the ploughman’s pains,
Who harrows up the soil;


And vain, without the miller’s aid,
The sowing and the dressing:
Then sure an honest miller, he
Must be a public blessing.


And such a miller now I make
The subject of my song,
Which, though it shall be very true,
Shall not be very long.


This miller lives in Glo’stershire:
I shall not tell his name;
For those who seek the praise of God,
Desire no other fame.


In last hard winter—who forgets
The frost of ninety-five?—
Then was all dismal, scarce, and dear,
And no poor man could thrive.


Then husbandry long time stood still,
And work was at a stand;
To make the matter worse, the mills
Were froze throughout the land.


Our miller dwelt beside a stream,
All underneath the hill;
Which flowed amain when others froze,
Nor ever stopped the mill.


The clam’rous people came from far
This favored mill to find;
Both rich and poor our miller sought,
For none but he could grind.


His neighbors cried, “Now, miller, seize
The time to heap up store,
Since thou of young and helpless babes
Hast got full half a score.”


For folks, when tempted to grow rich,
By means not over nice,
Oft make their numerous babes a plea
To sanctify the vice.


Our miller scorned such counsel base;
And when he ground the grain,
With steadfast hand refused to touch
Beyond his lawful gain.


“When God afflicts the land,” said he,
“Shall I afflict it more?
And watch for times of public wo,
To wrong both rich and poor?


“Thankful to that Almighty Power
Who makes my river flow,
I’ll use the means he gives to soothe
A hungry neighbor’s wo.


“My river flows when others freeze,
But ’tis at his command;
For rich and poor I’ll grind alike;
No bribe shall stain my hand!”


So all the country who had corn
Here found their wants redressed;
May every village in the land
Be with such millers blessed!