Post by Peter Moylan
We've had to get used to people saying "the proof is in the pudding",
but today on the TV news I heard a new variant of this. It was something
to do with Russian spies, and some US official was on air saying
"They'll just have to pay the piper".
I thought that in the US the Russians had already paid the piper two
There's a story that after the Boston Tea Party, as the protestors
disguised as "Mohawks" marched home, one Admiral Montague told them
something like "You have had your sport, but tomorrow you will have to
pay the piper."
I had enough trouble finding examples that I suspect it's been removed
from the history books as apocryphal. But the expression was presumably
reinforced by "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", and I'd guess that in the
U.S. "pay the piper" means "pay the consequences" more often than "call
By the way, he earliest version I found is from Mason Weems's biography
of George Washington, but he uses the phrase as a paraphrase of the
British attitude without ascribing it to anyone.
"As that most undutiful child [Boston] had always led off the dance in
outrage and rebellion against the parent state, it was determined that
she should pay the piper for /old and new/...that her purse should
answer for all the tea that had been destroyed..."
[Ellipses in original]
I wonder the admiral got into the story from an imperfect memory of
(Weems is now best known as the source of the anecdote about George
Washington and the cherry tree.)