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BALLAD OPERAS AND BALLADS 49
But one of the most famous of all, of course, is his "Friar of Orders Grey," composed for O'Keefe's opera Robin Hood. He was also stated to have composed the present melody of "Auld Lang Syne," the words of which were polished up by Burns, but this is very open to question. It is curious, however, to note that there is a great similarity between parts of this melody and Shield's popular song "The Thorn." Many of Shield's songs were written for Mrs. Billington to sing at Ranelagh.
The eighteenth century was particularly rich in nautical ballads, in which connection the name of Charles Dibdin rises to the mind at once. There had been a few sea songs of note before Dibdin's time. One of these was "Admiral Benbow," a fine old song, which dates from the early part of the century.
The subject of this ballad is mentioned in Evelyn's Diaryy under the date of January 1702-3. "News of Admiral Benbow's conflict with the French Fleet in the West Indies, in which he gallantly behaved himself, and was wounded, and would have had extraordinary success, had not four of his men-of-war stood spectators without coming to his assistance ; for this, two of their commanders were tried by a council of war and executed ; a third was condemned to perpetual imprisonment, loss of pay,