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Thomas Haynes Bayly was born in the city of Bath. His family connexions are good; his paternal grandmother was the sister of Lord Delamer, and Sir George Thomas, Bart., was his maternal grandfather. He is related to the present Earl of Stamford and Warrington, the Earl of Erroll, and Sir George Thomas. His principal amusement at ten years of age was writing verses and dramas; and being an only child, and his mother having a considerable fortune, he rejected all professional pursuits, and cultivated the talents which had so early developed themselves. In 1<26, he married Helena Becher Hayes, a near relation of Sir William Becher, Bart., and shortly afterwards retired to a cottage on the Sussex coast : but in 1831, an almost overwhelming misfor. tune befell him. His father, from some unexplained cause, became embarrassed, and left the country; and the income settled upon Haynes Bayly at his marriage, has never since been paid. Literature, which had hitherto been his amusement, now became essential to his comfort. If his songs were collected, they would fill many large volumes. He is also the author of several dramas,—“Perfection,” “Sold for a Song," the “Witness," and some others have not only been successful in the metropolis, but have been acted in almost every theatre in the kingdom. He has been an extensive contributor of prose essays and stories to many of the periodical works; and may be placed among the men of who are also men of industry.
The songs of Mr. Bayly have attained a popularity almost without precedent in our time. With the exception of Moore, no living writer has been so eagerly sought after by musical composers ; his words have become familiar under almost every roof in the kingdom ; and it would be difficult to pass through a street of the metropolis, or of any of the provincial towns, without finding some of them the stock in trade of the ballad-singer. Such large and unqualified success could have been achieved only by a man of considerable skill and ability; and, although attempts have been made to show that the poetry of Haynes Bayly is meretricious, the fact that it is universally admired and enjoyed by the public, is a proof of its merit which a volume of objecting criticism cannot destroy. The secret of his success—if secret it can be called—is that in all his writings he is NATURAL: his songs make their way to the heart; they are understood and appreciated by the unlearned i
they speak the thoughts and describe the feelings of the great mass of mankind, who have no idea of relating their woes and pleasures in splendid diction, or delicately turned sentences. He is tender, as well as natural; and graceful, as well as smooth : his lines run “glibly” on; and the memory easily receives and retains them. If tried by a severe standard, Mr. Bayly cannot be ranked among the higher and enduring Poets of Great Britain: he has essayed nothing of any length ; many hundred songs have, we believe, been written by him; but none of them have a more ambitious object than to produce gratification by the expression of some simple sentiment in pleasing verse; and perhaps a bolder attempt would be a failure. If, however, to have greatly and generally succeeded in a class of composition, by no means of small value, entitles him to a distinguished place among the Poets of his country, Mr. Bayly may fearlessly •claim it. He has not only excelled in producing strains of deep feeling and fine sentiment,in some of his poems there is a vein of arch playfulness and pointed humour that would have secured for him a reputation, had his verses never been associated with music. It is, however, impossible to deny that much of his fame has arisen from this association: he has thus, fortunately, obtained the means of introduction where perhaps it would have been impossible for him otherwise to have been known; but his merit as a writer must have been per-. ceived without such co-operation; with it, it has been effective to a degree almost unparalleled : so universally, indeed, are the songs of Haynes Bayly heard in the metropolis—in its drawing-rooms and in its streets—that the ear has become absolutely surfeited with them; he has had to endure the dangerous consequences of too much popularity.
It will be well if Poets of stronger mind and richer fancy will inquire how it is that the poems of Haynes Bayly have obtained such general favour : the inquiry may tempt them to write below rather than above the standard of excellence, when they design to address themselves to the mass. It would be easy to point out many who have composed “songs”-exquisitely perfect as poems -which few ever think of singing. They may be read with delight by those who can appreciate their superiority; but if they fail in touching the heart, they never make their way among a people.
THE GIPSIES' HAUNT.
Why curls the blue smoke o'er the trees?
Alas! in that green nook we see
The gipsies, wild and wandering race,
Forth trips a laughing dark-eyed lass,
THE FIRST GRAY HAIR.
The matron at her mirror, with her hand upon her brow,
Time from her form hath ta'en away but little of its grace; His touch of thought hath dignified the beauty of her face; Yet she might mingle in the dance, where maidens gaily
trip, So bright is still her hazel eye, so beautiful her lip.
The faded form is often marked by sorrow more than
years, — The wrinkle on the cheek may be the course of secret
tears; The mournful lip may murmur of a love it ne'er confest, And the dimness of the eye betray a heart that cannot
But she hath been a happy wife: the lover of her youth May proudly claim the smile that pays the trial of his
A sense of slight,-of loneliness,-hath never banished
sleep: Her life hath been a cloudless one; then wherefore doth she
She looked upon her raven locks, what thoughts did they
recall ? Oh! not of nights when they were decked for banquet or for
They brought back thoughts of early youth, e'er she had
learnt to check, With artificial wreaths, the curls that sported o'er her neck.
She seemed to feel her mother's hand pass lightly through
her hair, And draw it from her brow, to leave a kiss of kindness there; She seemed to view her father's smile, and feel the playful
touch That sometimes feigned to steal away the curls she prized so
And now she sees her first gray hair! oh, deem it not a crime For her to weep, when she beholds the first footmark of Time! She knows that, one by one, those mute mementos will
increase, And steal youth, beauty, strength away, till life itself shall
'Tis not the tear of vanity for beanty on the wane;
Ah, lady! heed the monitor! thy mirror tells thee truth; Assume the matron's folded veil, resign the wreath of youth: