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ARETHUSA, THE. English, Air. The song "The Arethusa" appeared in the opera The Lock and Key, acted in 1796, with words by Prince Hoare, music composed and selected by William Shield, and relates the engagement of the English frigate "The Arethusa" with a larger French warship, "La Belle Poule," in the English Channel in June, 1778. Although often attributed to Shield, he himself only claimed to have added the bass. Irish writers have claimed that Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) composed the tune as “The Princess Royal,” in honor of a daughter of Macdermott Roe. Kidson (in Groves), however, maintains it was an English country dance from the early 18th century, dedicated to Anne, daughter of George II, who married the Prince of Orange in 1734. For more see Roly Brown’s article at Musical Traditions , No. 45. See also Oswald's "My love is lost to me," which Samuel Bayard suggests is derivative of, or ancestral to, the melody attributed to Carolan.
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