The Miller and His Sons

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Melody -
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Traditional ballad

There was a crafty miller, and he
Had lusty sons, one, two, and three:
He called them all, and asked their will,
If that to them he left his mill.

2. He called first to his eldest son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

3. Father, said he, my name is Jack;
Out of a bushel I'll take a peck,
From every bushel that I grind,
That I may a good living find.

4. Thou art a fool! the old man said,
Thou hast not well learned thy trade;
This mill to thee I ne'er will give,
For by such toll no man can live.

5. He called for his middlemost son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

6. Father, says he, my name is Ralph;
Out of a bushel I'll take a half,
From every bushel that I grind,
That I may a good living find.

7. Thou art a fool! the old man said,
Thou hast not well learned thy trade;
This mill to thee I ne'er will give,
For by such toll no man can live.

8. He called for his youngest son,
Saying, My life is almost run;
If I to you this mill do make,
What toll do you intend to take?

9. Father, said he, I'm your only boy,
For taking toll is all my joy!
Before I will a good living lack,
I'll take it all, and forswear the sack!

10. Thou art my boy! the old man said,
For thou hast right well learned thy trade;
This mill to thee I give, he cried,
And then he turned up his toes and died.


A Miller, especially if he happen to be the owner of a soke-mill, has always been deemed fair game for the village satirist. Of the numerous songs written in ridicule of the calling of the 'rogues in grain,' this was one of the best and most popular.

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