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The Ides of April – or, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

In honor of the date, a song of the American Revolution:

A Junto Song

‘Tis money makes the members vote
And sanctifies our ways,
It makes the patriot turn his coat
And money we must raise, and
A-taxing we will go, will go
And a-taxing we will go.

More taxes we must sure impose
To raise the civil list;
Also pay our ayes and noes,
And make opposers hist, and
A-taxing we will go, &c.

The power supreme of Parliament
Our purpose did assist.
And taxing laws abroad were sent
Which rebels do resist, and
A -taxing we will go, &c.

Boston we shall in ashes lay,
It is a nest of knaves;
We’ll make them soon for mercy pray
Or send them to their graves, and
A-taxing we will go, &c.

Each colony, we will propose,
Shall raise an ample sum;
Which well applied, under the rose,
May bribe them—as at home, and
A-taxing we will go &c,

We’ll force and fraud in one unite,
To bring them to our hands;
Then lay a tax on the sun’s light
And king’s tax on their lands, and
A -taxing we will go, &c.

From Songbook of the American Revolution, Rabson
Note: in 1775, Britain sent a “Junto” of three generals, Clinton
Howe and Burgoyne, to th colonies to put the rebellious
colonists in their place.

DG Note: I particularly recommend “Music of the American Colonies” by Anne and Ridley Enslow, for an excellent performance of this song, as well as many others. In case you wondered what kind of music I listen to while writing. {g}

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10 Responses »

  1. I wonder what the Republicans and Democrats would think of this song? ;)

  2. I just got back from London a couple of weeks ago, and of course me and my companions had to visit the Tower of London where a Beefeater was conducting a tour for a group comprised mostly of Americans. In the course of the tour, he made a light hearted dig about how much history we Americans would have “if [we]‘d only paid our taxes”. I came really close to responding by saying, “we just buy our history, like we did London Bridge” but didn’t want to be responsible for an international incident.

  3. You know I am 49 years old and I have never heard this song, isn’t that just crazy?

  4. Love the post and the blog, but the Latin teacher in me must correct that today is not the Ides of April, that was the 13th. The only months that have the Ides on the 15th are March, May, July and October, in the rest of the months it falls on the 13th. In the Roman calendar today is a.d. XVII Kal. Mai. or the 17 days (counting inclusively, Roman style) before the Kalends (1st) of May. I wouldn’t mention it except that I suspect that you might just be interested in such minute historical details. Vale!

    • Dear Sarah–

      Thank you! I am indeed interested to hear that. What is the definition of the Ides, then? (clearly not the midpoint of the month, as I’d ignorantly assumed). Is a lunar assignment?


      • Dear Diana,

        You are quite welcome! Yes, the Ides were originally connected to the full moon. In their earliest history (and we’re talking mud huts alongside the Tiber here), the Romans were farmers. Their year was based on the gestational cycle of the pig and their month was divided up according to the phases of the moon. The Kalendae (1st day of the month) was the first day of the new moon, the Nonae (the 7th or 9th day of the month) was the day the first quarter of the moon became visible and the Idus (or in English, Ides) was the full moon.

        As the Romans became city-dwellers they separated their months from the lunar cycle and fixed their month lengths. The Ides was assigned as the 15th day in March, May, July and October and the 13th day in all other months.

        That may be more than you ever wanted to know but I love to talk about the Roman calendar! [vbg]


  5. Gives new meaning to “Born in the USA” :)

  6. Tea-ed off about taxes? Who isn’t? I wonder if it was Twinings tea that got dunked in the harbor (salt-tea). Our current Tea Party likes to brew tempests in teapots. S.O.S.

  7. Of course the difference between then and now is that we do elect the representatives in the legislature that taxes us… not so sure they remember who “We the people” are once they gat there: -)

  8. Someday, would you do a blog posting about the music in your books? Ever since I read Drums for the first time I have ached to hear Roger’s voice. I emailed once, and your very nice assistant replied that Alex Beaton had the recorded voice you considered most like Roger’s.

    Please, will you tell us more about all this — where you find the songs which you include in the books, what singers you have heard perform them, why you include those songs in particular, ….that kind of thing.

    Sally H

    ps. I had a dream the other night, about Jamie doing the sword dance on New Year’s (happy), which morphed into his memory of dancing before Culloden. I could _almost_ hear the Bodhrun.

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