‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’
in Sounds of liberty
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Sing a Song of Sixpence is a case where the political message was entirely encoded and thus available only to the initiated. According to Charles Mackay, the 'lines are political and written in the time of the Commonwealth to a popular melody'. Thomas Cooper's lament was for an era when music-making was a ubiquitous part of the political process and often used as a weapon. A correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald made much the same point to the journal's unsympathetic readership by conceding that the sound of the music must comfort the prisoners. This chapter shows the extent of the radical and reformist Anglophone world: donations were received from places as far removed as Perth and Bundaberg, Otago and Glasgow.

Sounds of liberty

Music, radicalism and reform in the Anglophone world, 1790–1914


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