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The Devil's Dictionary:    

Definition of Head Money

  HEAD-MONEY   noun
A capitation tax, or poll-tax.
  In ancient times there lived a king
  Whose tax-collectors could not wring
  From all his subjects gold enough
  To make the royal way less rough.
  For pleasure's highway, like the dames
  Whose premises adjoin it, claims
  Perpetual repairing.  So
  The tax-collectors in a row
  Appeared before the throne to pray
  Their master to devise some way
  To swell the revenue.  'So great,'
  Said they, 'are the demands of state
  A tithe of all that we collect
  Will scarcely meet them.  Pray reflect:
  How, if one-tenth we must resign,
  Can we exist on t'other nine?'
  The monarch asked them in reply:
  'Has it occurred to you to try
  The advantage of economy?'
  'It has,' the spokesman said:  'we sold
  All of our gray garrotes of gold;
  With plated-ware we now compress
  The necks of those whom we assess.
  Plain iron forceps we employ
  To mitigate the miser's joy
  Who hoards, with greed that never tires,
  That which your Majesty requires.'
  Deep lines of thought were seen to plow
  Their way across the royal brow.
  'Your state is desperate, no question;
  Pray favor me with a suggestion.'
  'O King of Men,' the spokesman said,
  'If you'll impose upon each head
  A tax, the augmented revenue
  We'll cheerfully divide with you.'
  As flashes of the sun illume
  The parted storm-cloud's sullen gloom,
  The king smiled grimly.  'I decree
  That it be so -- and, not to be
  In generosity outdone,
  Declare you, each and every one,
  Exempted from the operation
  Of this new law of capitation.
  But lest the people censure me
  Because they're bound and you are free,
  'Twere well some clever scheme were laid
  By you this poll-tax to evade.
  I'll leave you now while you confer
  With my most trusted minister.'
  The monarch from the throne-room walked
  And straightway in among them stalked
  A silent man, with brow concealed,
  Bare-armed -- his gleaming axe revealed!


Devil's Dictionarydefinition from:
The Devil's Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce, 1911


Last updated: 9/3/2011 12:48:30