Don’t you be foolish, pray 

Now Hodge met Molly the Miller’s maid
Who long his suit denied
Half inclined half afraid
He did stretch his old head and cry

Now Molly while I love you so
Why still our hearts deny
Come hang it and to the parson go
And now don’t you be foolish pray

And Molly with an artful blush
That shamed the rose’s hue
Replied to Hodge I pray you hush
And I bid you speak softly do

We will be overheard I know
The mill won’t work today
So dear Hodge let go of me hand
And now don’t you be foolish pray

And Hodge thus chided at a stand
He says well then goodbye
I’m going to give young Susan me hand
Since now you do cast off I

Me cast you off cries Molly no
The mill won’t work today
So dear Hodge to church we’ll go
And now don’t you be foolish pray 

Don’t you be foolish, pray

I heard this on Nic Jones’s splendid first solo album, Ballads and Songs (1970). I still have the LP, although I only got it quite recently, about 1973.

Nic found this on a broadside and believes it to be a townsperson’s romanticised view of country life, and I suspect he’s correct. However, as rural idylls go, this one is rather charming. The broadside can be found in the Bodleian Library’s Broadside Ballads Online, a splendid project featuring scans of thousands of broadside songs and ballads. This one, actually titled ‘Dont be foolish Pray’ (sic.), was published in Birmingham by Matthew Wright sometime around 1820-1855.

The melody is Nic’s adaptation of the second part of a tune in the Dancing Master (1651) called The Merry, Merry Milkmaids. He altered some of the words, presumably to make them scan. Also, in the original the young lady was named variously as Mog, Moggie and Molly, but that’s not too concerning as they are all diminutives of Margaret.


The Jones Boys play highly accomplished traditional music from Ireland, England, Scotland, Brittany, Sweden, Bulgaria …

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