"face the music" from "face the music of war"

Paul Kusinitz kkmetron at COX.NET
Wed Jul 3 19:51:45 UTC 2002

As an oblique sideline to the topic:

'A Dictionary of the Underworld',  Eric Partridge, 1968.

_music_, as money or other booty delivered perforce to a thief (esp. to a highwayman), is recorded as early as in 'The Widdow', by Jonson, Fletcher & Middleton, pub. in 1652 but written ca. 1616, for there a highwayman says, 'You must pay your Musick, sir | Where ere you come'; in C. 18-19, it survived only as an element in 'the music's paid'.

_music's paid, the_. (Cf. preceding entry.) B.E., 1698, 'The Musick's paid, c. the Watch-word among High-way-men, to let the Company they were to rob, alone, in return to some Courtesy from some Gentlemen among them'--repeated in A New Canting Dict., 1725; another early example occurs at p. 21 of Anon., 'The Jacobite Robber', 1693; 1785, Grose, who implies that, by his time, it had been shortened to 'music'; app. + [apparently obsolete] by 1860

Paul Kusinitz
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Rick H Kennerly 
  Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2002 9:04 AM
  Subject: Re: "face the music" from "face the music of war"

  |o| boards and literally face the music. Another explanation traces
  |o| it back to
  |o| militia musters, where every man is expected to appear fully
  |o| equipped and
  |o| armed, when in rank and file, _facing the music_.

  But none of the modern military usages carry the sense of 1. inevitability
  and 2. dread usually associated with modern meanings.

  I was thinking that William Falconer's Universal Dictionary of the Mariner
  (1780) would shed some light on this when he talks about punishment and
  courts martial at sea in the British Navy, but nothing so far.


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