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Thomas Haynes Bayly

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Thomas Haynes Bayly (13 October 1797 – 22 April 1839) was an English poet, songwriter, dramatist, and miscellaneous writer.
He was born at Bath on 13 October 1797. He was the only child of Mr. Nathaniel Bayly, an influential citizen of Bath, and on the maternal side was nearly related to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington and the Baroness Le Despencer. At a very early age Bayly displayed a talent for verse, and in his eighth year was found dramatising a tale out of one of his story-books. On his removal to Winchester he amused himself by producing a weekly newspaper, which recorded the proceedings of the master and pupils in the school. On attaining his seventeenth year he entered his father's office for the purpose of studying the law, but soon devoted himself to writing humorous articles for the public journals, and produced a small volume entitled 'Rough Sketches of Bath.' Desiring at length some more serious occupation, he proposed to enter the church. His father encouraged his views, and entered him at St. Mary Hall, Oxford; but although Bayly remained at the university for three years, 'he did not apply himself to the pursuit of academical honours.' To console himself after an early love disappointment, Bayly travelled in Scotland, and afterwards visited Dublin. He mingled in the best society of the Irish capital, and it was here that he distinguished himself in private theatricals, and achieved his earliest successes as a ballad writer.
Bayly returned to London in January 1824. Having given up all idea of the church, he had formed the determination to win fame as a lyric poet. In 1826, he was married to the daughter of Mr. Benjamin Hayes, Marble Hill, county Cork. The profits from his literary labours were at the time very considerable, and his income was increased by his wife's dowry. While the young couple were staying in Southampton at Lord Ashtown's villa (Chessel, at Bitterne on the River Itchen) Bayly wrote, under romantic circumstances, the song 'I'd be a Butterfly,' which quickly secured universal popularity. Not long afterwards he produced a novel entitled 'The Aylmers,' in three volumes; a second tale, called 'A Legend of Killarney,' written during a visit to that part of Ireland; and numerous songs and ballads, which appeared in two volumes, named respectively 'Loves of the Butterflies' and 'Songs of the Old Château.'
Breaking up his establishment at Bath, Bayly now repaired to London. There he applied himself to writing ballads as well as pieces for the stage, some of which became immediately popular. This was not the good fortune, however, of the play 'Perfection,' now regarded as his best dramatic work. Bayly scrawled the whole of this little comedy in his notebook during a journey by stagecoach from Bath to London. It was declined by many theatrical managers, but ultimately Madame Vestris, to whom it was submitted, discovered its merits and produced it, the favourite actress herself appearing in it with great favour. Lord Chesterfield, who was present on the first night, declared that he never saw a better farce. The piece became a great favourite at private theatricals, and on one occasion it was produced with a cast including the Marchioness of Londonderry, Lord Castlereagh, and Sir Roger Griesly. 'Perfection' was succeeded by a series of popular dramas from the same pen.
The year 1831 found Bayly overwhelmed by financial difficulties. He had invested his marriage portion in coal mines, which proved unproductive. The agent who managed Mrs. Bayly's property in Ireland failed to render a satisfactory account of his trust. Another agent was afterwards found, who again made the property pay; but Bayly in the meanwhile fell into a condition of despondency, and lost for a time the light and graceful touch which had made his verse so popular.
He also suffered in health, though a temporary sojourn in France enabled him to recover much of his former mental elasticity. A poem he wrote at this time, 'The Bridesmaid,' drew a flattering letter from Sir Robert Peel, and formed the subject of a remarkable picture by one of the leading artists of the day. After his loss of fortune, Bayly wrote diligently for the stage, and in a short time he had produced no fewer than thirty-six dramatic pieces. In 1837, appeared his 'Weeds of Witchery,' a volume which caused a French critic to describe him as the Anacreon of English romance. In 1837, already seriously ill, he wrote a trilogy of novels "Kindness of Women". It consisted of a double novel "Kate Leslie" and an independent tale "David Dumps, Or, The Budget of Blunders". They were ordered by the publisher Richard Bentley and were quite well paid. Those novels are stylish, realistic and humorous. He had had brain fever, but from this illness he recovered, only, however, to suffer from other and more painful diseases. He still hoped to recover, but dropsy succeeded to confirmed jaundice, and he died on 22 April 1839. He was buried at Cheltenham, his epitaph being written by his friend Theodore Hook.
His best-known songs include Old House at Home, I'd be a Butterfly, Oh, no, we never mention him, She wore a Wreath of Roses, The Mistletoe Bough, and Long, Long Ago.