Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) (Image Wikimedia CC)
The words of the song were written by Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), journalist, writer, sociologist, abolitionist and political economist.
Martineau and Flower were probably the most powerful protest song writing partnership of the C19th. Many of their songs became popular anthems sung by thousands of protesting workers in the streets, most of whom would have had no idea that their voices were carrying the words and music of two young ladies.
The August Song of the Month was for a quite different market – the middle classes – a song to delight them in their evenings at home. And there is much to delight here – their close bond inspired some of Flower’s most detailed and beautiful musical settings. The word painting is delicate with almost a sense of fun in the piano, and the melody is catchy and very rewarding to sing. But, for those who choose to hear it, there is a vision of the collective will of humanity going ever onwards, a great force joined together, interconnected and dependent on each other and the earth itself for all generations. A message indeed for all time.
This great creative partnership came to an untimely end in the very year that the Songs of the Months were published. Martineau was unable to deal with the scandal that ensued when Flower set up home with William Fox – the preacher at the Unitarian Chapel in Finsbury – who had left his wife, taking his children with him.
The two women were separated until a few years before Eliza’s death, when there was a reconciliation, but not unfortunately in time for their collaboration to flourish once more.