I read this many years ago. It was in McGuffey's Reader No. 4 - (1837 Edition) which is also now online. It was written for a middle school reading how times have changed.

In full:

The Ludicrous Account of English Taxes


1. Permit me to inform you, my friends, what are the inevitable consequences of being too fond of glory. Taxes – upon every article which enters into the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the foot – taxes upon everything which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste – taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion – taxes on everything on earth, and in the waters under the earth – on everything that comes from abroad, or is grown at home – taxes on the raw material – taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man – taxes on the sauce which pampers man’s appetite, and the drug which restores him to health – on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal – on the poor man’s salt, and the rich man’s spice – on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride – at bed or board, couchant or levant, we must pay.

2. The school boy whips his taxed top – the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle on a taxed road. The dying Englishman, pouring his medicine which has paid seven per cent, into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent – flings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per cent – makes his will on an eight pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary, who has paid a license of an hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death.

3. His whole property is then immediately taxed from two to ten percent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel. His virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble, and he is then gathered to his fathers – to be taxed no more.

4. In addition to all this, the habit of dealing with large sums will make the government avaricious and profuse. The system itself will infallibly generate the base vermin of spies and informers, and a still more pestilent race of political tools and retainers, of the meanest and most odious description, while the prodigious patronage, which the collecting of this splendid revenue will throw into the hands of government, will invest it with so vast an influence, and hold out such means and temptations to corruption, as all the virtue and public spirit, even of republicans, will be unable to resist.

I suspect this isn't something you'd find in the Common Core Curriculum.

Posted by Jewel Atkins at March 22, 2014 8:04 AM