Up and down the City Road,
In and out the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel!

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle,
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop goes the weasel!

Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table;
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop goes the weasel!

There are many versions of this nursery rhyme - most people know only the first two verses. The other two, best known verses are:

  A penny for a ball of thread
  Another for a needle,
  That's the way the money goes,
  Pop goes the weasel.

  All around the cobbler's bench
  The monkey chased the people;
  The donkey thought 'twas all in fun,
  Pop went the weasel.

The song refers to the financial circumstances of many people in London - there are many suggestions as to the precise meaning, but some things are nonetheless agreed.

The City Road did (still does) have a pub called "The Eagle", which became one of the first Music Halls - the area was populated by many tradespeople, among them cobblers, hatters and silk workers in various periods of history.

There were many Protestant (especially Huguenot) refugees who had fled France during the late 17th century, to set up as silk weavers in London,and some think this is the origin of the song. (One version of the first verse begins "Round and round the mulberry bush" - the mulberry being the food of the silkworm.)

All these trades used a tool known as the "weasel", either a flat iron or weaver's shuttle, but it may also be rhyming slang for a coat ("weasel and stoat") or a suit (corruption of "whistle and flute"). Any of these may have been pawned or "popped" at a pawnbroker's at the West end of the road. The "monkey" on the table may refer to a drinking vessel of some kind (it is unlikely to be a monkey in Cockney financial terms - that is £500, which would be a very expensive coat indeed...) The monkey of the final verse might be drawn from "uncle", a common word for the pawnbroker.

All in all, we have a picture of London workers, on shoestring budgets, pawning goods to pay for their entertainment, and falling into poverty and hard times as a result.


A colleague of mine has also pointed out that this was the tune whistled by Data on his first meeting Will Riker in TNG.

Thanks also to Gritchka and heyoka for confirmation that the 'Eagle' pub is still there, and to Demeter, who offered 'suit' by way of explanation for 'weasel' - rhyming slang (whistle and flute)

Here's an even longer version:

All around the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun
Pop -- goes the weasel!
Johnny's got the whooping cough and
Mary's got the measles
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!

A penny for a spool of thread
A penny for a needle
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!
You may try to sew and sew
And never make anything regal
So roll it up and let it go
Pop -- goes the weasel!

A painter would his lover to paint
He stood before the easel
The monkey jumped all over the paint
Pop -- goes the weasel!
When his sweetheart she did laugh
His temper got so lethal
He tore the painting up in half
Pop -- goes the weasel!

My son and I went to the fair
We saw a lot of people
We spent a lot of money there
Pop -- goes the weasel!
I got sick from all the sun
My sonny boy got the measles
Still we had a lot of fun
Pop -- goes the weasel!

I climbed up and down the coast
To find a golden eagle
I climbed the rocks and thought I was close
Pop -- goes the weasel!
But, alas, I lost my way
Saw nothing but a seagull
I tore my pants and killed the day
Pop -- goes the weasel!

I went to the grocery store
I thought a little cheese'll
Be good to catch a mouse on the floor
Pop -- goes the weasel!
But the mouse was very bright
He wasn't a mouse to wheedle
He took the cheese and said "Good night"
Pop -- goes the weasel!

Up and down the City Road
In and out the Eagle
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!
Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
Mix it up and make it nice
Pop -- goes the weasel!

Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop -- goes the weasel!
Put some pepper on its nose
And you'll make it sneeze-l
Catch it fast before it snaps --
Pop -- goes the weasel!

A penny for a cotton ball
A penny for a needle
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!
If you want to buy a pig
Buy a pig with hairs on
Every hair a penny a pair
Pop -- goes the weasel!

All around the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun
Pop -- goes the weasel!
I've no time to wait and sigh
I've no time to tease-l
Kiss me quick -- I'm off -- goodbye!
Pop -- goes the weasel!

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