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)