1778
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ralph of the Mill. A Pastoral Ballad.

Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (13 August 1778).

William Hawkins


Four double-quatrain stanzas, in the manner of William Shenstone and John Cunningham. The lines are "written by Mr. Hawkins, Author of Vauxhall and Ranelagh Songs, &c. &c." The poem relates the courtship of a pair of humble but downright lovers, and is apparently intended as a reprimand to their betters: "Peace follows their footsteps wherever they go, | In bliss all their hours are spent; | But, leaders of fashion, I'd have you to know, | Their 'happiness flows from content.'"



As Hebe was tending her sheep t' other day,
Where the warblers whistle and sing,
A rural young swain came tripping that way,
As brisk and as blithe as a King.
The youth was a stranger to trouble and care,
Contentment e'er guided his will;
Yet ever regarded the smiles of the fair,
Tho' always bred up in a mill.

Love stole in his breast at the sight of the maid;
For he could not her charms but adore:
"And if thou art cruel, dear Hebe, he said,
I surely shall love you no more."
Such tenderness melted her into surprize,
(For Hebe was never unkind;)
And all in a sudden love glow'd in her eyes
Which spoke the dictates of her mind.

They sat themselves down at the foot of a hill,
And chatted together so free;—
'Till Ralph, the young swain, made signs to the mill,
Whilst clasping the nymph on his knee:
And thus in a transport the miller replied,
"Thy charms, dearest girl, are divine;"
Then press'd her sweet lips, and with rapture he cry'd,
"O Hebe! consent to be mine!"

She listen'd attentive to all his request,
And freely comply'd to his will;
And now, to her solace, she's married and blest,
With honest young Ralph of the mill.
Peace follows their footsteps wherever they go,
In bliss all their hours are spent;
But, leaders of fashion, I'd have you to know,
Their "happiness flows from content."

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